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Mebane's Eleven: Tunes for Two

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Album Review

From the hands of a set of Bay Area grad students (in chemistry and physics, no less) comes this set of forward-looking jazz. Given the relative obscurity of the band, the maturity of the album is surprising. The break-out star would appear to be the pianist (actually playing a Rhodes keyboard) Simon Rochester. Rochester uses a nice sensitivity on the keys, reminiscent at times of Keith Jarrett, and at times of early Herbie Hancock. Most of the time, however, he's playing in an original tone, with hints of the masters but a core of self-indulgence in the solos. Excellent bass is provided courtesy of Justin Hellmann, with a mix of basic walking basslines and some inspired solos. All percussion comes courtesy of Sheryl Mebane (who actually only wrote nine of the pieces on this album, not the 11 that the title would suggest), an entirely capable anchor as well as a very good composer it would seem. The drum solos tend to go the way of the percussionist from time to time, exploring a little beyond the groove and introducing additional sounds in an attempt to expand the boundaries of the group. However, it's when Mebane is simply holding up the rhythm section of things that she really shines. The trio performs excellently throughout the course of the album, and if this one is any indication, there should be some great things to come in the future.

Mebane's Eleven: Tunes for Two, Tangria Jazz Group
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