Tin Hat Trio

Memory Is an Elephant

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The free-thinking Bay Area would seem to be an appropriate breeding ground for this iconoclastic trio, which has put together an unclassifiable mixture of acoustic jazz, desentimentalized tango, bluegrass textures, and other idioms along with a crucial overlooked component -- silence. Rob Burger (accordion and field organ), Carla Khilstedt (violin and viola), and Mark Orton (guitars, banjo and mandolin) describe their music as "music for the shotgun wedding of Astor Piazzolla and Django Reinhardt with Charles Ives as the flower girl." -- which puts a reviewer at a sudden loss for words, for that just about nails it. Suffice it is to add that the music here is quiet, unostentatious, and unpredictable, with the elegant surface of classical chamber music and spooky undercurrents that sometimes surface like avenging ghosts. Sometimes they can be atonal and frightening; who knows what demons of the past a title like "UC Irvine/UC Davis" had summoned up. Other pieces develop in a stream of consciousness, changing meters and tempos, petering out before suddenly springing to life in a totally different idiom. While the Tin Hat Trio's compositions aren't that strong yet, to be honest, it's the processes and outbreaks of weirdness that keep you interested.

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