Stories by the Jerry Tachoir Group
Review by Austin Bealmear

   The latest CD from Nashville’s Jerry Tachoir Group is a 9-track album recently released on the Avita Jazz label. The project was produced by Jerry at his Good Vibes Sound Studio in Hendersonville, and engineered by Jon Mir. All the tunes are originals by the group’s pianist/vocalist Marlene Tachoir and feature Jerry’s 4-mallet mastery on vibes, with Roy Vogt on bass, and Rich Adams on drums. Drummer Danny Gottlieb sits in on 5 tunes, and Beth Gottlieb adds percussion. Danny is a drum legend, a founding member of the original Pat Metheny band of the late 70’s, and a pioneer of the drum style that combined jazz and rock in the 70’s. The tunes touch a lot of bases, from swing to South American rhythms to the classic George Shearing piano/vibes sound of the 1950’s.

   The first 3 tracks are pretty straight ahead, with attractive heads followed by swing based solos. “Flyer” won first place in a Global Music Network composition contest. “Chase the Dream” is Marlene’s newest tune and blends her voice nicely with the vibes. This technique of using her voice as another instrument has always given the Tachoir Group a signature sound. Solos begin with an energetic counterpoint section between vibes and bass, with both Jerry and Roy exercising their melodic skills. The well-named “Anthem” does sound like theme music for something (Maybe the next Olympics? An NPR program?) with a section in 3/4. Marlene’s piano solo includes unison lines with the voice, and Beth Gottlieb supports the swing on congas.

   The next 3 tunes also seem to work as a group; compositions a little more complex, a fuller sound, and more contemporary rhythms. The light tango rhythms of “All Tango’d Up” send us all down to the Southern Hemisphere, with lots of changes that inspire everybody’s best solos. I’ve always felt that a good tune is one that sets up a special atmosphere, retained and expanded through the improvising. And this piece has plenty of flavor! The addition of Marlene’s voice is really effective in getting an exotic sound reminiscent of the Nuevo Tango music pioneered by legendary Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola.

   Next, Jerry changes his vibes sound to an older style heavy vibrato to dedicate a tune to his past experience with jazz piano legend George Shearing. In the 1950’s and 60’s the Shearing Quintet was one of the most identifiable and popular sounds in jazz, using melodic lines played by piano-vibes-guitar in unison. Instead of falling back on a worn out standard for this, the group re-creates the Shearing style (without a guitar) in a cool waltz by Marlene called “All About Shearing.” Track 6 is a longer form composition that keeps going interesting places. With Marlene’s vocal sound elegantly placed in the arrangement, and additional percussion, this tune will remind you of the best of 1970’s early fusion: not electric rock, and more informed by world music than standard bop changes and rhythms.

   The CD concludes with 3 more: #7 – a fun blues with a fun title, “GreenerBlues (Made from Recycled Material), which makes me wonder if the tune was created from riffs Marlene just hadn’t found a use for in other compositions. Recycling at its best! #8 – “Cirque Bleu” does give one the impression of the playful old time sound of circus music (which by the way, I suspect was more influential on early American music than most critcs have allowed.) And #9 – a kind of free-bop tune called “See, Saw, Scene” that swings to start, but then lets solos go in whatever direction the moment takes them.

   Good vibraphone players are still rare in jazz, and it’s a treat to finally have a new CD by Mr. Tachoir and his Group. Everyone sounds good, and Danny Gottlieb’s style fits right in on “Flyer,” “See Saw Scene,” “Anthem,” “All Tango’d Up,” and “A Greener Blues (Made from Recycled Material).” For more on the CD, Jerry, and Marlene, check out www.tachoir.com.

The recording is availalbe as a digital download at CD Baby and Apple iTunes. The physical CD will be available in January from www.avitajazz.com.