Selected Praise for Mebane's Eleven
"From the hands of a set of Bay Area grad students (in chemistry and physics, no less) comes this set of forward looking jazz..." --Adam Greenberg, All Music
"..."Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” rippling with irresistible vivacity, opens the album with inviting major-key brightness..." --Bill Donaldson, Cadence
"…Mebane's Eleven is an interesting and thoroughly entertaining album…” --Bruce Von Stiers, BVS Reviews
“…The band is a piano trio, with a lot of sparkle…" --Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
"The Tangria Jazz Group is ostensibly a jazz piano trio made up of brainiacs from all over the map…" --C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
"…All of them are brilliant players... and it sounds like they were having a hell of a time in the studio..." --John Book, Music for America
"...Tangria Jazz Group bases its sound in classic bebop jazz with a modern twist. The approach is laid-back with a light soul jazz groove, at times reaching towards acid-jazz in rhythmic flavor and attitude…The group is tight, and it is obvious that they have found the true spirit of jazz in their midst." --Mish Mash Music Reviews
"Acclaimed as one of the up and coming jazz bands of the Bay Area jazz scene, Tangria Jazz group’s latest recording is sure to be noticed by critics and jazz fans alike. Containing light straight-ahead jazz in the rich tradition of a Bill Evans, Ellington and other greats, the music flows quite well with sparks of energy..." --Edward Blanco, Editor of eJazzNews
"…It's inspired playing that deserves to be heard." --Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher of Midwest Record
"…Their music is fresh like the early AM bird calls to which you attend before you get distracted by the sounds of the arrival of workaday world." --Peter Poses, Host of "OverNight Jazz: The Soundz Of Surprize", KRFC Ft. Collins, Colorado
"The trio sounds excellent. I like the playing here all around…." --TAXI A&R
Full Reviews of Mebane's Eleven
"From the hands of a set of Bay Area grad students (in chemistry and physics, no less) comes this set of forward looking jazz. Given the relative obscurity of the band, the maturity of the album is surprising. The breakout star would appear to be the pianist (actually playing a Rhodes keyboard) Simon Rochester. Rochester uses a nice sensitivity on the keys, reminiscent at times of Keith Jarrett and at times of early Herbie Hancock. Most of the time however, he's playing in an original tone, with hints of the masters but a core of self-indulgence in the solos. Excellent bass is provided courtesy of Justin Hellmann, with a mix of basic walking basslines and some inspired solos. All percussion comes courtesy of Sheryl Mebane (who actually only wrote 9 of the pieces on this album, not the 11 that the title would suggest), an entirely capable anchor as well as a very good composer it would seem. The drum solos tend to go the way of the percussionist from time to time, exploring a little beyond the groove and introducing additional sounds in an attempt to expand the boundaries of the group. However, it's when Mebane is simply holding up the rhythm section of things that she really shines. The trio performs excellently throughout the course of the album, and if this one is any indication, there should be some great things to come in the future."
--Adam Greenberg, All Music
“In between her work as a novelist and her postdoctoral research in environmental chemistry, drummer Sheryl Mebane has been leading the Tangria Jazz Group in the San Francisco area since 1997.
Throughout much of Mebane’s Eleven: Tunes for Two, her Tangria Jazz Group performs as a conventional rhythm section trio, whether they cover standards like “Freedom Jazz Dance” (which features bassist Justin Hellman’s break-out solo, the high point of their version) or Mebane’s own compositions like “Warm” (on which she animates the interpretation with propulsive hand drumming). Mebane plays “Gemini” as a solo, though through multi-tracking, she combines vibes, djembe and drums for a totality of effect that recalls the percussiveness of naturally made instruments.
Similarly, Mebane’s percussiveness enlivens once again. “Warm,” on which she invites guests to contribute copper pipes, guitar, and electric violin for free improvisation that alters the piece’s texture as it evolves through the track. Mebane’s ballads, like “Reactions,” provide an occasion for Rochester and Hellman to consider ever more elaborately the initial song’s concept for deepening harmonic development.
Mebane appears to possess a fondness for Jazz waltz as well. Her engaging “Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” rippling with irresistible vivacity, opens the album with inviting major-key brightness. On the other hand, “Ethan’s Song,” yet in three-four, proceeds more slowly, though the flow of a waltz continues invitingly to showcase the members of the trio, not to mention the addition of Belinda Catalona’s electric violin.
The Tangria Jazz Group consists of young, energetic, imaginative musicians whose work deserves to be heard beyond the Bay Area…and now it will be."
--Bill Donaldson, Cadence
"The Tangria Jazz Group is a jazz band that has been getting a pretty big name in the Bay Area. Fronted by drummer Sheryl Mebane, this trio has recorded an album titled Mebane's Eleven. The subtitle for the album is Tunes For Two. The album was released on the Blastfamous Records label.
The album was produced by Mebane and Giotto Harrison. Like the title suggests, the album has eleven songs. Nine of these songs are Sheryl Mebane originals. The album lasts a little over forty-three minutes.
The members of the Tangria Jazz Group are Sheryl Mebane, Justin Hellman and Simon Rochester. As I mentioned earlier, Mebane is the trio's drummer. Hellman plays bass and Rochester the keyboard. Mebane also plays jembe, vibes and does percussion on the album. Rochester plays sax on one of the tracks.
There are four guest performers on the album. Belinda Catalona plays electric violin on three of the tracks and mandolin on another. Giotto Harrison does the copper pipes on the last song. Alex Pasternak does bass on the last two tracks and James Bringetto plays guitar on the same tracks.
Teach Yourself To Live Elsewhere is the first song. A moderately paced piece, this primarily features the keyboards. But there is a nice bass solo on the song.
Money Time is a soft and subtle piece at first. The pace picks up around the middle and things move fairly fast through the rest of the song.
Warm is a song that has some great bass and percussion.
Ethan's Song is a nice and easy song, making me think of a sweet lover's interlude. Catalona's electric violin is a nice addition to the music on the song.
The group does a nice job of covering the Miles Davis song, Solar. That is followed by a bass laden groove by Eddie Harris called Freedom Jazz Dance.
Reactions slows things back down with some wonderful keyboard music.
Gemini has an almost African tint to it. Mebane does a wonderful job on vibes here.
Breathe Easy is a subtle piece that reminded me a bit of the some of the jazz albums my dad had acquired bank in the ‘60's.
Money Time is one of the songs that features guitar and electric violin. The song has a lot of cool sounds mixed together for a unique blend of music. It is a bit of funk mixed in with toe tapping classic jazz movements.
The last song on the album is a reprise of Warm. This time there is Alex Pasternak filling in on bass and Bringetto slides in some nice guitar music along with Catalona's intriguing electric violin.
Mebane's Eleven is an interesting and thoroughly entertaining album. Sheryl Mebane and the other two members of Tangria Jazz Group make this album a nice addition to my jazz collection."
--Bruce VonStiers, BVS Reviews
“I’m not usually too keen on reviewing jazz music because I don’t really know anything about it. I write something I think of or feel and then end up looking stupid (or being verbally reamed by someone who does ‘know jazz’) so I tend to steer clear, it scares me.
So I’ll say little about this except for it’s cool. I can see it coming in handy for fancy cocktails parties or nice dinners. It’s good conversation music for someone like me who is not well versed in jazz.
One thing that confuses me greatly: The CD says on it: Mebane’s Eleven, Tunes for Two and Tangria Jazz Group. I assume the name of the record is Tunes for Two, but is the group name Mebane’s Eleven or Tangria Jazz Group? And to make things more confusing when I put it in my computer, CDDB shows the artist as Sheryl Mebane. Don’t even bother looking at the spine of the CD you’ll be even more confused.
Ok upon further investigation (CDBaby to the rescue again) I find that the group is Tangria Jazz Group, and the CD title is Mebane’s Eleven: Tunes for Two. Whew! I guess someone just filled out CDDB wrong. I think they need a designer for their cover art. Anyway, the music is cool if you like this sort of thing, and I do occasionally, it’s just not everyday music for me."
--Amy Lotsberg , Collected Sounds
"Tangria Jazz Group is centered on the trio of Justin Hellman (b), Sheryl Mebane (d, vibes, perc) and Simon Rochester (keyboards, sax). Sheryl wrote all of the music except "Solar" (M. Davis) and "Freedom Jazz Dance" (E. Harris). Mebane's Eleven are warm, relaxing tunes that have a gentle flow. We appreciated Sheryl's percussive work on songs like "Gemini" giving the session more depth and variety."
--D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place
"Really enjoy the fresh and rich sounds of Tangria Jazz Group and their new CD, "Mebane's Eleven". They sound like those few great jazz combos that have melded their individual playing into a unified blend of fine distinction. A pleasure to listen to from track to track."
--Mike Raymond, WTIP
"”Little melodies come to me when I'm walking.” So says drummer/percussionist/composer Sheryl Mebane, the leader of the San Francisco bay area-based Tangria Jazz Group. And that's probably as good a description of the mystery of the creative process as you'll hear.
Mebane's vision, on Mebane's Eleven, focuses in on some of those unfailingly engaging melodies. The band is a piano trio, with a lot of sparkle—pianist Simon Rochester brightens the sound up with a good dose of Fender Rhodes along with the acoustic keys. Justin Hellman adds a solid heartbeat on bass; and Mebane rolls through various percussion modes on drums, jembe and vibes.
Those melodies that come to Mebane have a straighforward, energetic quality, a Bill Evans delicacy and prettiness; and the two covers slipped in with Mebane's seven originals, Miles Davis' “Solar” and Eddie Harris' ”Freedom Jazz Dance,” featured on Davis' Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1966), gives you an idea of the influences.
The disc opens with “Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” a tune with a wistful, Bill Evans feeling, a melancholy sound with an insistent rhythmic drive and some creative comping from pianist Rochester behind Hellman's bass solo. “Money Time” slips deeply inward on an extended piano intro that blossoms in the direction of extroversion when Mebane and Hellman come in.
“Warm” features Mebane on jembe, on a tune with a sultry, dark mood; “Ethan's Song” brings in electric violinist Belinda Catalona, adding a folk music quality to a very modern sound.
The last two tunes on the disc are guest artist revisitations of “Money Time” and “Warm,” featuring Jason Bringetto on guitar, violinist Catalona again with her mandolin on “Money Time,” along with Giotto Harrison on copper pipes and Alex Pasternak on bass for a closing of the show with more of a world music feeling.
Mebane's Eleven offers up a refreshing take on the piano trio format, with the ending guest spot opening the focus up further."
--Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
"The Tangria Jazz Group is ostensibly a jazz piano trio made up of brainiacs from all over the map.
Drummer and composer Dr. Sheryl Mebane is an environmental chemist, bassist Justin Hellman is a product of the music department at the University of California, Berkeley where keyboardist Simon Rochester is currently conducting physics research.
So, what type of jazz does such a brainy bunch produce? Surprisingly, it is quite mainstream and straight-ahead. There are some sharp turns however, so listeners must watch themselves.
The lion’s share of the eleven pieces recorded herein are compositions by Mebane save for Miles Davis’ ephemeral “Solar” and antithetical to that, Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance.” Mebane writes music that is easy on the ears, easy to understand and relatively unchallenging for the listener. That is, until it isn’t.
Rochester splits his time between acoustic and electric pianos, playing both with warmth and intelligence. “Money Time” and “Warm” show him lyrically and almost completely devoid of Bill Evans influences. He likes to spread the jazz waters with Fred Hersch and Les McCann oars, producing waves of easy funk when necessary and emotive invention all the way around.
“Ethan’s Song” is an electric piano waltz that never finds Rochester striking the keys to the point of distortion nor Mebane or Hellman offbeat.
“Solar” and “Freedom Jazz Dance” are respectfully played and thoroughly enjoyable. Rochester has a beautiful touch and when combined with Mebane’s thoughtful percussion, makes for superior versions of these standards. Hellman sets up the funk roll on “Freedom Jazz Dance” and Rochester adds the heavy cream.
The final two cuts reprise “Money Time” and “Warm” with the help of guests. These are not mere remixes, rather, they are a complete recasting of the Mebane compositions to very great effect. Here the group begins to misbehave, pushing the music to the edges, offering a potent comparison to the relative straightness for the remainder of the recording."
--C. Michael Bailey, j4zz.com
"I'm a fan of cover art, and I like to see how an artist uses cover art to give hints of what the music sounds inside. I'm listening to Mebane's Eleven: Tunes For Two (Blastfamous), and the cover photo looks like digitally made footprints over what looks like smooth sand. But the smoothness begins to look like skin, perhaps someone's back. It works, and it's nice, but as I'm hearing the music, which is very rich in the jazz tradition and does not stay in one corner at any given moment, I wish the cover was a bit more daring, perhaps making a bold of a statement as the musicians make on the eleven songs.
This is the statement of The Tangria Jazz Group, lead by drummer Sheryl Mebane, and featuring bassist Justin Hellman and pianist/keyboardist Simon Rochester. Their brand of jazz is laid back and soothing, but not smooth (although it can get smooth at the appropriate moments). The majority of the songs are Mebane originals, and one can hear a wide range of influences, from Tony Williams to Roy Haynes, Herbie Hancock to Dave Brubeck, Dave Holland to Jimmy Garrison, and all of it sounds great together. "Warm" starts out with Mebane playing the jembe as Hellman enters the picture, and Rochester makes his way into the mix. The approach is gradual, and eventually Mebane, through the magic of multi-tracking, is also on the drum set adding little things along the way, making the ride a good one to observe.
In many ways, the song selection is very much in the vein of Prestige-era Miles Davis, where it begins effectively and that becomes your invitation to the dance. Once you're in, there's a whole lotta interesting things going on, and the band begins to musicially flirt with each other and with the listener, they jam at the right moments (as they do in Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance") while also allowing time to relax and let things fall as they may, as heard in Davis' "Solar". At the end, the trio expands "Warm" by inviting more friends in to feel how hot it can get. In this take, the song has some additional sounds such as a guitar, electric violin, and some percussion, and had the group allowed themselves to let the music take them as far as they could, the final recording could have easily surpassed ten minutes. Instead they keep things just under five minutes, but the listener now feels heated and needs to shake it off. The rhythms Mebane plays could lead into something very intense, but she just cuts it off and that's it. Maybe that's nothing more than a lure to see this group live. Or maybe a lure to see what they come up with next on future recordings.
All of them are brilliant players, and together they deliver an album that delivers a romantic vibe, or at least to create a place where two minds can unite and become one, in whatever way you want that to be. They do so by creating the soundtrack to that unity, and it sounds like they were having a hell of a time in the studio, for their unity as musicians and friends."
--John Book, Music for America
"Hailing from the Bay Area with female drummer Sheryl Mebane as its leader, the Tangria Jazz Group bases its sound in classic bebop jazz with a modern twist. The approach is laid-back with a light soul jazz groove, at times reaching towards acid-jazz in rhythmic flavor and attitude.
Mebane is the group's leader/composer, watching over her group with loose reins, allowing them to venture out and experiment within the confines of the classic jazz trio. Bassist Justin Hellman and keyboardist Simon Rochester skillfully play their way through the tunes, interacting with Mebane beautifully throughout the album. The group is tight, and it is obvious that they have found the true spirit of jazz in their midst."
--Mish Mash Music Reviews
"Acclaimed as one of the up and coming jazz bands of the Bay Area jazz scene, Tangria Jazz group’s latest recording is sure to be noticed by critics and jazz fans alike. Containing light straight-ahead jazz in the rich tradition of a Bill Evans, Ellington and other greats, the music flows quite well with sparks of energy. Drummer and composer Sheryl Mebane is the leader of the group, essentially a trio with Justin Hellman on the bass and Simon Rochester on keyboard and sax.
For this recording, the group enlists the help of four guest artists and they are James Bringetto (guitar), Belinda Catalonia (electric violin, mandolin), Giotto Harrison (copper pipes) and Alex Pasternak (bass). Except for the Miles Davis “Solar,” and Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance,” all of the other tunes are original compositions from Mebane with the last two “Money Time,” and “Warm,” repeated version with guest artists.
The album starts off with perhaps the best cut here in the lively up-tempo “Teach Yourself to Live Elsewhere,” featuring brisk play from Rochester and a bass solo from Hellman as the leader provides some forceful drumming. “Money Time,” opens up with a light intro from the keyboards then develops into a fine number with pronounced drumming from Mebane.
Other appreciable tunes here are the soft “Ethan’s Song,” the very jazzy version of “Solar,” and the percussive “Gemini,” where Mebane plays percussions. Mebane’s Eleven, Tunes for Two is simply a quite entertaining session of some down right hard straight jazz served in a creative and engaging fashion by a terrific threesome."
--Edward Blanco, Editor of eJazzNews
"The leader is a chick drummer with a
musical education that she hasn't let go to her head enough to ruin her
instincts as she follows the lead of musical heroes like Tony Williams with
her own Bay area trio that plays like it wants to go the distance. The kind
of DIY date that has to serve multi functions as a young band fights it's
way along, it still has enough on the ball to stand as fine jazz you can
enjoy even if you aren't a club owner listening to it as an audition. It's
inspired playing that deserves to be heard."
--Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher of Midwest Record
"The music of The Tangria Jazz Group's 'Mebane's Eleven: Tunes For Two' is like a pleated skirt swaying in a gentle, cool, crisp spring morning breeze before the temperature breaks and the heat & sizzle arrive. Their music is fresh like the early AM bird calls to which you attend before you get distracted by the sounds of the arrival of workaday world."
--Peter Poses, Host of "OverNight Jazz: The Soundz Of Surprize", KRFC Ft. Collins, Colorado
"The trio sounds excellent. I like the playing here all around. The solo piano intro is particularly impressive and leads well into the body of the track. Drums and bass provide wonderfully supple support and interplay from there on out. Great drum fills at the climax of the solo sections. To my ears, the track sounds suitable for broadcast pitching –I think (the track "Money Time") could do well, for ex., on KKJZ (88.1 FM Long Beach, one of the country’s premier jazz stations)."--TAXI A&R (taxi.com)