Tangria Jazz Group
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Tangria Jazz Group

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
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"Peter Poses, Host of "OverNight Jazz: The Soundz Of Surprize""

The music of The Tangria Jazz Group's 'Mebane's Eleven: Tunes For Two' is like a pleated skirt swaying in a gentle, cool, crisp spring morning breeze before the temperature breaks and the heat & sizzle arrive. Their music is fresh like the early AM bird calls to which you attend before you get distracted by the sounds of the arrival of workaday world. - KRFC Ft. Collins, Colorado


"Dan McClenaghan"

”Little melodies come to me when I'm walking.” So says drummer/percussionist/composer Sheryl Mebane, the leader of the San Francisco bay area-based Tangria Jazz Group. And that's probably as good a description of the mystery of the creative process as you'll hear.
Mebane's vision, on Mebane's Eleven, focuses in on some of those unfailingly engaging melodies. The band is a piano trio, with a lot of sparkle—pianist Simon Rochester brightens the sound up with a good dose of Fender Rhodes along with the acoustic keys. Justin Hellman adds a solid heartbeat on bass; and Mebane rolls through various percussion modes on drums, jembe and vibes.
Those melodies that come to Mebane have a straighforward, energetic quality, a Bill Evans delicacy and prettiness; and the two covers slipped in with Mebane's seven originals, Miles Davis' “Solar” and Eddie Harris' ”Freedom Jazz Dance,” featured on Davis' Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1966), gives you an idea of the influences.
The disc opens with “Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” a tune with a wistful, Bill Evans feeling, a melancholy sound with an insistent rhythmic drive and some creative comping from pianist Rochester behind Hellman's bass solo. “Money Time” slips deeply inward on an extended piano intro that blossoms in the direction of extroversion when Mebane and Hellman come in.
“Warm” features Mebane on jembe, on a tune with a sultry, dark mood; “Ethan's Song” brings in electric violinist Belinda Catalona, adding a folk music quality to a very modern sound.
The last two tunes on the disc are guest artist revisitations of “Money Time” and “Warm,” featuring Jason Bringetto on guitar, violinist Catalona again with her mandolin on “Money Time,” along with Giotto Harrison on copper pipes and Alex Pasternak on bass for a closing of the show with more of a world music feeling.
Mebane's Eleven offers up a refreshing take on the piano trio format, with the ending guest spot opening the focus up further.

- All About Jazz


"Adam Greenberg"

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 breakout 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 9 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. - allmusic.com


"C. Michael Bailey"

The Tangria Jazz Group is ostensibly a jazz piano trio made up of brainiacs from all over the map. Drummer and composer Dr. Sheryl Mebane is an environmental chemist, bassist Justin Hellman is a product of the music department at the University of California, Berkeley where keyboardist Simon Rochester is currently conducting physics research.
So, what type of jazz does such a brainy bunch produce? Surprisingly, it is quite mainstream and straight-ahead. There are some sharp turns however, so listeners must watch themselves.
The lion’s share of the eleven pieces recorded herein are compositions by Mebane save for Miles Davis’ ephemeral “Solar” and antithetical to that, Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance.” Mebane writes music that is easy on the ears, easy to understand and relatively unchallenging for the listener. That is, until it isn’t.
Rochester splits his time between acoustic and electric pianos, playing both with warmth and intelligence. “Money Time” and “Warm” show him lyrically and almost completely devoid of Bill Evans influences. He likes to spread the jazz waters with Fred Hersch and Les McCann oars, producing waves of easy funk when necessary and emotive invention all the way around.
“Ethan’s Song” is an electric piano waltz that never finds Rochester striking the keys to the point of distortion nor Mebane or Hellman offbeat.
“Solar” and “Freedom Jazz Dance” are respectfully played and thoroughly enjoyable. Rochester has a beautiful touch and when combined with Mebane’s thoughtful percussion, makes for superior versions of these standards. Hellman sets up the funk roll on “Freedom Jazz Dance” and Rochester adds the heavy cream.
The final two cuts reprise “Money Time” and “Warm” with the help of guests. These are not mere remixes, rather, they are a complete recasting of the Mebane compositions to very great effect. Here the group begins to misbehave, pushing the music to the edges, offering a potent comparison to the relative straightness for the remainder of the recording. - j4zz.com


"John Book"

I'm a fan of cover art, and I like to see how an artist uses cover art to give hints of what the music sounds inside. I'm listening to Mebane's Eleven: Tunes For Two (Blastfamous), and the cover photo looks like digitally made footprints over what looks like smooth sand. But the smoothness begins to look like skin, perhaps someone's back. It works, and it's nice, but as I'm hearing the music, which is very rich in the jazz tradition and does not stay in one corner at any given moment, I wish the cover was a bit more daring, perhaps making a bold of a statement as the musicians make on the eleven songs.
This is the statement of The Tangria Jazz Group, lead by drummer Sheryl Mebane, and featuring bassist Justin Hellman and pianist/keyboardist Simon Rochester. Their brand of jazz is laid back and soothing, but not smooth (although it can get smooth at the appropriate moments). The majority of the songs are Mebane originals, and one can hear a wide range of influences, from Tony Williams to Roy Haynes, Herbie Hancock to Dave Brubeck, Dave Holland to Jimmy Garrison, and all of it sounds great together. "Warm" starts out with Mebane playing the jembe as Hellman enters the picture, and Rochester makes his way into the mix. The approach is gradual, and eventually Mebane, through the magic of multi-tracking, is also on the drum set adding little things along the way, making the ride a good one to observe.
In many ways, the song selection is very much in the vein of Prestige-era Miles Davis, where it begins effectively and that becomes your invitation to the dance. Once you're in, there's a whole lotta interesting things going on, and the band begins to musicially flirt with each other and with the listener, they jam at the right moments (as they do in Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance") while also allowing time to relax and let things fall as they may, as heard in Davis' "Solar". At the end, the trio expands "Warm" by inviting more friends in to feel how hot it can get. In this take, the song has some additional sounds such as a guitar, electric violin, and some percussion, and had the group allowed themselves to let the music take them as far as they could, the final recording could have easily surpassed ten minutes. Instead they keep things just under five minutes, but the listener now feels heated and needs to shake it off. The rhythms Mebane plays could lead into something very intense, but she just cuts it off and that's it. Maybe that's nothing more than a lure to see this group live. Or maybe a lure to see what they come up with next on future recordings.
All of them are brilliant players, and together they deliver an album that delivers a romantic vibe, or at least to create a place where two minds can unite and become one, in whatever way you want that to be. They do so by creating the soundtrack to that unity, and it sounds like they were having a hell of a time in the studio, for their unity as musicians and friends. - Music for America


"Mish Mash Music Reviews"

Hailing from the Bay Area with female drummer Sheryl Mebane as its leader, the Tangria Jazz Group bases its sound in classic bebop jazz with a modern twist. The approach is laid-back with a light soul jazz groove, at times reaching towards acid-jazz in rhythmic flavor and attitude.
Mebane is the group's leader/composer, watching over her group with loose reins, allowing them to venture out and experiment within the confines of the classic jazz trio. Bassist Justin Hellman and keyboardist Simon Rochester skillfully play their way through the tunes, interacting with Mebane beautifully throughout the album. The group is tight, and it is obvious that they have found the true spirit of jazz in their midst. - Mish Mash Music Reviews


"Edward Blanco"

Acclaimed as one of the up and coming jazz bands of the Bay Area jazz scene, Tangria Jazz group’s latest recording is sure to be noticed by critics and jazz fans alike. Containing light straight-ahead jazz in the rich tradition of a Bill Evans, Ellington and other greats, the music flows quite well with sparks of energy. Drummer and composer Sheryl Mebane is the leader of the group, essentially a trio with Justin Hellman on the bass and Simon Rochester on keyboard and sax.
For this recording, the group enlists the help of four guest artists and they are James Bringetto (guitar), Belinda Catalonia (electric violin, mandolin), Giotto Harrison (copper pipes) and Alex Pasternak (bass). Except for the Miles Davis “Solar,” and Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance,” all of the other tunes are original compositions from Mebane with the last two “Money Time,” and “Warm,” repeated version with guest artists.
The album starts off with perhaps the best cut here in the lively up-tempo “Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” featuring brisk play from Rochester and a bass solo from Hellman as the leader provides some forceful drumming. “Money Time,” opens up with a light intro from the keyboards then develops into a fine number with pronounced drumming from Mebane.
Other appreciable tunes here are the soft “Ethan’s Song,” the very jazzy version of “Solar,” and the percussive “Gemini,” where Mebane plays percussions. Mebane’s Eleven, Tunes for Two is simply a quite entertaining session of some down right hard straight jazz served in a creative and engaging fashion by a terrific threesome. - eJazzNews


"Chris Spector"

The leader is a chick drummer with a musical education that she hasn't let go to her head enough to ruin her instincts as she follows the lead of musical heroes like Tony Williams with her own Bay area trio that plays like it wants to go the distance. The kind of DIY date that has to serve multi functions as a young band fights it's way along, it still has enough on the ball to stand as fine jazz you can enjoy even if you aren't a club owner listening to it as an audition. It's inspired playing that deserves to be heard.
- Midwest Record


Discography

Tangria Jazz Group (7 tracks, 2008): Self-titled CD sharing world jazz themes.

Mebane's Eleven (11 tracks, 2006):
played on 100 radio stations; Listen to all the tracks at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tangria2
(ex. world jazz track 'Warm')

Songs from Lady Bird (10 tracks, 2003):
see www.pearlstreetpublishing.com for the related book and www.geocities.com/sherylmebane/spokenLadyBird.mp3 for a spoken word performance from the book; Listen to all the tracks at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tangria1 (ex. funk jazz track 'Inner Urge')

Photos

Bio

Tangria Jazz Group is becoming a fixture in the Bay Area jazz scene. The group's unique blend of intensity and sensitivity sets them apart. Formed in the spring of 1997, Tangria Jazz Group has developed a rich, captivating sound that brings new contributions to bear upon the genres of Latin, funk and straight-ahead jazz with original music and fresh takes on jazz standards.

Each player brings an individual style and impressive talent to the group, always keeping Tangria's sound interesting and dynamic. Their influences range from Ellington to Jobim, from Miles Davis to Joe Henderson. Simon Rochester on Rhodes piano draws upon the intricate and lush contributions left by Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans. The intensity and explosiveness of Tony Williams and the delicateness of Billy Higgins are apparent in drummer Sheryl Mebane's playing. In addition to their influences, you'll also hear freshness, personal expression, and a unique identity, especially in their own compositions.

We hope you enjoy the music of Tangria Jazz Group.

Check out www.tangria.net/shows.html for our updated calendar.

Check out http://tangria.net/productions.html to learn more about Tangria Music Productions, our pop, rock, vocal jazz and funk projects.

Band Members