The Long Song label is based in Milano, Italy and has been documenting a growing scene there. Tongs is a trio with whom I was not yet familiar. Tongs are basically a sax/bass/drums trio but still come up with some surprises. “Bootswanna” features Arlo on bari sax with the trio playing a trio, loping groove that sounds like it is about to fall over. This could almost be The Thing without all of that screaming?!? Each piece evokes a different mood or vibe. “Lifting Tools” has a somber bass line, eerie electronics and a sleepy bari sax solo. “Slippers Follow Me” has a laid back, sly sort of funky groove with a strong bari solo from Arlo. Although the bassist rarely solos, he is often at the center of each piece structurally. He does take a fine bowed bass solo on “Polly Polka” while Arlo plays a mellow repeating bass clarinet pattern. “Stretched Tongue” has one of those great lumbering dinosaur-like grooves with growling bari sax just keeps getting more intense as the electronics add a more mysterious counter shade and the band starts to rock out in the last section. On “Bobo” the trio play a haunting melody that most musicians would die for since it reaches so deeply into our collective consciousness and soothes our souls with that spiritual balm we all need from time to time. Tongs work best when they explore the more restrained side of sax/bass/drums thing, all three members integral to their spirited collective sound. Considering that I wasn’t familiar with any of the members of this fine trio, this is truly an unexpected delight worthy of your time, consideration and cash.
Bruce Lee Gallanter