Grismore/Scea Group | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Grismore/Scea Group

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The name of this quintet sounds like some strategic investment outfit, but that works for me; the Grismore/Scea Group has developed a reasoned and high-yield plan for maximal utilization of its considerable resources. Also, they either swing like hell or rock steady, depending on the setting. When Steve Grismore matches his tone to Paul Scea's full tenor sound and the emotive trumpet of Tim Hagans, the band pays its modernist homage to early jazz or hard bop; when Scea switches to flute and Hagans mutes his horn, Grismore's guitar gets a spacey quality, and the inspiration has suddenly switched from Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus to Weather Report. On their debut album, Just Play (Accurate), the Grismore/Scea Group reel through nearly a dozen pieces that similarly travel the musical map, each of them providing artistic commentary rather than slavish devotion. For sheer command of their instruments and their idiom, these guys prove riveting. Grismore, a mainstay of the Iowa City jazz scene, plays with a more electronic and less "natural" guitar sound than you might expect, and it gives his crafty melody lines--as well as the group sound--an extra bite. Scea, now of West Virginia, can sail on tenor, but I especially like his ability to translate much of the tenor's stylistic range to the more limited flute. Hagans has one of the most appealing and versatile trumpet personae in contemporary music, and the rhythm section of bassist John Turner and drummer Matt Wilson--the same team that has so admirably driven the Boston bands Either/Orchestra and the Charlie Kohlhase Quintet--would seem to have no flaws. Give a listen; a high rate of interest is strongly indicated. Friday, 11 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

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