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Tina Marsh and the Bob Rodriguez Trio: Out of Time

I’ve always found Marsh, who usually works with the big, bold, Austin-based Creative Opportunity Orchestra, a bit too edgy and emotive. Her passion for experimentation, while surely admired in avant-garde circles, too often obscures the raw beauty of her sensational voice. Her latest release, Out of Time (CreOp Muse 007; 70:14) finds her in the company of the Bob Rodriguez Trio, though the more intimate setting does little to calm her down. “All or Nothing at All” is mounted at a thunderous pace, and sounds like the psychotic rants of an unstable stalker. (She should also learn that when “been” is pronounced “bin” it no longer rhymes with “in between”). Yip Harburg’s moving “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” starts out well, then spins out of control as Marsh morphs herself into what sounds like a street urchin doing a bad Chita Rivera impression. All four of the original tracks are far too outre for my more pedestrian tastes, especially the 12 minutes of hammering, headache-inducing scat that is “Milky Way Dreaming” and the shrill caterwauling of “Riddles.” Yet, on the rare occasion that Marsh settles for something simple, the results are extraordinary. Her dreamily provocative rendition of “You Go to My Head” perfectly captures the song’s delicate tightrope walk between love and obsession, and she delivers a reading of the 23rd Psalm (set to music by Alex Coke) that is made rich by its own austerity. Actually, I wish there were two Tina Marshes: the purring jazz kitten and the sharp-clawed CreOp hepcat. Then I could listen contentedly to the first and leave the other to those who can better understand it.

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