No Such Place?

Tribecastan – Strange Cousin

Strange Cousin (Evergreene Music 002, 2009)

Tribecastan, according to this disc’s liner notes (a good read, by the way), is located just a few kilometers from the cultural wasteland of New Jersiberia. I’ve never considered myself geography-challenged, but once in a while I get wind of a locale previously unknown to me. And by golly, this place has got a vibrant musical culture, spearheaded by a couple of multi-instrumentalists named John Kruth and Jeff Greene and ably supported by a cast of players which includes master trombonist and seashell player Steve Turre

So what does the music of Tribecastan sound like? Well, sort of like klezmer in some spots. Sort of Balkan. Kinda Arabic. A trifle bluegrassy. And not unlike jazz infused with global sounds. But then there’s also a track that features a steel drum being played like an Indonesian gamelan, some Latin and African riffs, a blend of Indian and Andalusian wind instruments and the sounds of everything from hurdy gurdy to chromatic tambourine to bladder pipe to Pakistani taxi horn.

Okay, now that it’s become abundantly clear that my simply talking about this stuff isn’t going to give you a clue, the only thing I can do is talk some more. And we’re talking fusion here. You don’t have to go out on a limb to guess Strange Cousin was created with a whole lot of musical knowledge, an equal amount of skill, a healthy dose of humor and perhaps an unspoken determination, despite track titles like “The Flowers (that I Placed at my Ancestor’s Grave Spontaneously Burst into Flame with their Appreciation),” not to come across as just plain silly. No fear on that count: apart from the throwaway “Tribecastani Traffic Jam,” these clever and musically solid instrumental pieces are pleasures all. Put Tribecastan on your travel itinerary. And if you can’t, buy the CD.

Buy Strange Cousin

Author: Tom Orr

Tom Orr is a California-based writer whose talent and mental stability are of an equally questionable nature. His hobbies include ignoring trends, striking dramatic poses in front of his ever-tolerant wife and watching helplessly as his kids surpass him in all desirable traits.