New Orleans jam band Garage á Trois (Charlie Hunter, guitars, bass; Skerik, saxophones; Mike Dillon, vibraphone, percussion; Stanton Moore, drums) would seem to have penned the soundtrack to Outre Mer, a tale of a little person (frankly I'm glad the word dwarf has been relegated to Tolkienesque fantasy novels) who grows up in a small nineteenth-century French country village, lives largely inside his head, emigrates to the Southeast Asian islands, and lives there far more happily, fathering a son who later tours the world with P.T. Barnum.
Another example of an interesting film we'll never see because certain idiots in Hollywood are convinced all we Americans want are things that blow up (with and without Bruce Willis) or the odd romantic comedy starring Diane Lane.
That aside, the music here is a bit more zydeco-flavored than some other bands of this sort we could mention (The Necks, Garaj Mahal, et cetera), also a bit higher in R&B component à la Cadillac Jones. Clearly the band had fun doing it, and if you're in the mood you might have as much fun listening to it.
Themes take their own time developing, some of them funky as all getout, a few tuneful ("The Dwarf," "Amandiwo"). I would nail this as party music, something to put on that will fill the room and give your guests something to hum between canapes.
"Merpati" sends Dillon over to the percussion side of the room and twins his bongos with Moore's slippery cymbals, while Hunter boogies an infectious chord run, and Skerik's sax recalls Gary Bartz.
"The Dwarf" ventures into more late 1970s Herbie Hancock territory, drifting tones from the multitracked guitar and marimba providing a suitable loam for the sax to grow links off of. Nice hook, of which there are plenty more.
Not really my thing; as I said, music to fill the room as opposed to the mind. But as it's a soundtrack, that's what it was meant to do, and that's exactly what it does.
by Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive September 2005 Vol 15 No. 5 - Table of Contents