Three Hour Tour
Toucan Play (Three Hour Tour, 2010)
Admit it. You know what this band’s name refers to. What you don’t know- and what may be the one thing about them that defies anything passing as conventional wisdom -is that a band with steel pan and ukulele as lead instruments can be all cool and no camp.
Three Hour Tour members Greg Paxton (steel pan and drumset), Thom Brennan (ukulele), Sam Montooth (bass) and Erik Leckrone (percussion) are clearly not interested in Caribbean music that invokes mental pictures of overbaked vacationers in loud floral shirts. So what they’ve done is cooked up a dandy disc of calypso, reggae, mento and Latin-tinged pieces played with the tightly entwined expertise of a jazz combo and the inspired energy of buskers on a beach. (A track of theirs is featured in a party scene in “The Social Network,” by the way.)
Apart from a cover of the familiar “Rum and Coca Cola,” the instrumentals here are all originals that range in feel from spunky (“Pelicano,” “Calypso Moon,” “Tobago Hayride”) to serene (“Suki,” “Shhhh”). Paxton navigates the nuances of his instrument like the great pan masters (Andy Narell comes to mind), Brennan coaxes sounds out of the ukulele that are bigger and bolder than most folks would think possible, and the bass/percussion backbone adds supportive zest that holds it all together.
Toucan Play is feel-good music for sure, but there’s unmistakable substance, based on a combination of genuine island roots and impeccable musicianship, that makes it so much more.
Buy the album from www.threehourtourmusic.com