Tina Marsh Reviewed
Volume I: Inside the Breaking(CreOp Muse)
The best big-band maestros often sacrifice the spotlight for the greater good, the larger whole, and Tina Marsh remains democratic to a fault. Shouldering Austin's Creative Opportunity Orchestra since 1980, Marsh and her clarion larynx gnarl and stoke the free-thinking collective's locomotion. Following 1994's The Heaven Line, and a collaboration with CO2 offshoot the Bob Rodriguez Trio on 1999's Out of Time, both high grade and with her TM alone on the marquee Volume I: Inside the Breaking smolders like a solo debut, intimate and unafraid. Marsh pushes her singing as hard as any single composition's emotional core to the point of Breaking. Anyone expecting a gowned diva leaning against a piano will get a shard of Marsh's fingernails caught in their blackboard. She gets right up in a song's face, never backing down nor blinking, whether on a straight, loving delivery of Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When," or a delicate, moving-to-operatic climb up Puccini's "Vissi d'arte" in its native tongue, no less. Working solely with local pianist/co-arranger/CO2-er Eddy Hobizal and cellist Terry Muir, Marsh makes it sound easy on three tracks by the aforementioned Italian composer, a lyrical turn through Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," and Leonard Cohen's tense "Anthem." Sting's "Until" likewise stiffens with drama, icy hot stalker talk, while Marsh's scatting on "The Very Thought of You" gives the ubiquitous standard an avian edge. Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might as Well Be Spring" doesn't distinguish itself, and the closer should have been an a cappella vehicle, Marsh center stage, but halving "Why Did I Chose You?"/"But Beautiful" is no letdown. Unbreakable.