Los Angeles based guitarist, Johnnie Valentino, has put together an eclectic quintet on his new OmniTone release, Stingy Brim. The use of Randy Jones on tuba in lieu of a bassist is an important part of the album's overall sound, but no less distinctive are Mick Rossi on B3 as well as harmonium and Bob Sheppard on clarinet in addition to tenor. Valentino throws in a little mandolin in addition to his six string, and Mark Ferber rounds out the group on drums and percussion.
Sometimes looking backwards is necessary to moving forward, and Valentino makes interesting use of some instruments from the music's past on this modern sounding disc. The intention seems to be to draw on the traditions of New Orleans, but the sound also owes quite a bit to Henry Threadgill's recent ensembles; the title cut, with its busy rhythms and the prominent tuba recalls Threadgill's Zooid in particular. Valentino's arrangements are much more streamlined, however, the grooves more forward and the compositions a bit hookier than Threadgill's tend to be.
The drunken sounding "Dog Eggs" features some nice clarinet from Sheppard and an angular take on the blues from the guitarist in his solo. Rossi is the star of the date, especially when given the chance to wail the Hammond organ. Jones' tuba lays a steady foundation throughout and Ferber's sticks seem to be in constant motion throughout the course of the date. Though the group tends to be a little meandering in its improvisations, there is plenty of meat to work on here.