Tongue In Cheek is a fine trad band that is based in Baltimore and Washington D.C. The core of the group is banjoist-leader Zach Serleth, singer Bridget Cimino, violinist Matt Andrews, trombonist-pianist Keith Myers (who also does a bit of singing), Ed Goldstein on tuba, and drummer Nick Stevens. Some selections also include trumpeter Steven Cunningham and pianist Jonathan Jensen.
The band is flexible both in its instrumentation and its repertoire. On its recent CD Jelly Roll, the music ranges from “Baltimore” and “Old Man Of The Mountain” to “Lover Come Back To Me” and “Russian Rag.” The unusual frontline (which is sometimes comprised of violin, trombone, and banjo with prominent accompaniment by the tuba) and Ms. Cimino’s fine singing give the group its own musical personality.
It is particularly rewarding to hear such obscurities as “Ay Ay Ay Ay (My Serenade),” “If You Want The Rainbow,” and “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears” (famous for the Paul Whiteman version but rarely performed since) being played with enthusiasm.
The one reservation that I have about the group is their name, which may lead some to think of this as a comedy band. While listening to Tongue In Cheek is fun, the spirited music that they create is no joke.
Jelly Roll (Self-Released, 13 selections, TT = 59:39) www.tncjazz.com