Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Grismore/Scea Group: Well Behaved Fish

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Remember those old cartoons in which the protagonist, sleeping Rip van Winkle-like into the next century, awakened to find an atomic funhouse world of flying cars, smell-o-vision and outlandish creatures? Such are the images brought to mind by Well Behaved Fish, the third album (and first in nearly a decade) by Iowan guitarist Steve Grismore and West Virginia’s Paul Scea on saxes and flute.

The two leaders take equal shares of the compositional duties. Scea tends to favor uptempo, mechanized heads, while Grismore’s tunes have a moodier, more atmospheric approach. Both use electronics extensively, giving the band its retro-futuristic sheen, and each shakes up fat grooves with a free-blowing attitude. But it’s trumpeter Brent Sandy’s “Cletus N’gugu” that scores the cleanest hit. It’s a chunky slice of electronic ‘toon funk that rushes and swoops like a roller coaster, with spiky synthesized guitar, far-out flute and Sandy’s own wah-wah horn squawking like a garrulous duck.

The album takes a few stylistic detours. Ornette Coleman’s “Dancing in Your Head” is rendered as a giddy calypso, and Grismore’s “Baghdad” is full of quasi-Eastern riffing that recalls some strains of hippie-era rock. But freewheeling funky fusion is the touchstone, and fans of that idiom will find plenty of enjoyment here.