Tom McDermott’s review of “Charm”

The great Tom McDermott was kind enough to review Double-Wide’s CD “Charm”. Check it out below!

John Ellis and Double-Wide
Parade Light Records

John Ellis and Double-Wide is my kind of modern jazz band. There are no endless strings of Coltrane and Brecker licks in this music. Rather you get clever tunes, finely crafted counterpoint, and whopping dollops of humor. And with a lineup of sax, trombone, organ, sousaphone and drums (and occasional accordion), you hear some timbres rarely heard in jazz.

“Charm” is a NYC/Nola potpourri, with the Crescent City represented by sousaphone virtuoso Matt Perrine and the ever-elastic Jason Marsalis on drums. Trombonist Alan Ferber, organist Gary Versace and leader-saxophonist Ellis are NYC residents. This type of fusion often yields great results; and of course, Ellis was a New Orleans resident back in the 1990s.

John wrote all the tunes, and he is very careful on “Charm” to give each track a different stamp. “Booker” is not specifically evocative of the Piano Prince, but has two very catchy tunes, which may have given it opening-song status.
“High and Mighty” is a rambunctious shuffle with some rhythmic breaks from Pluto. The perfectly-titled “Horse Won’t Trot” plods along dolefully in a lopsided 5/4 stutter-step.

Things pick up with Raymond Scottian “Charm is Nearly Always Sinister,” with some ingenious interplay in the statement of the melody between Perrine and Versace. Eastern Europe is summoned up to a degree on “Old Hotel,” with shades of the Tin Hat Trio, and “International Tuba Day,” redolent of the Slavic brass band tradition. “Snake Handler” (tango), “Barbed Wire Britches” (funk), “Yearn” (gospel, but with some outre progressions) – Ellis’ conjures many styles without losing an ounce of his wonderfully quirky personality.

—Tom McDermott