For a group of players that individually live all over North America, Tunnel Six shows remarkably skillful ensemble interaction. This is the first recording by the band, whose members first played together at a Jazz Workshop at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, in 2009, although they have toured in both Canada and the United States. Their compositions, all by band members, are quite tuneful, but also sophisticated formally and metrically. Examples include pianist Andrew Oliver's "Lake Superior," which begins with his slow, hymn-like intro before the ensemble enters, setting up a passionate, two-fisted piano solo. After recapitulation of the ensemble entrance, tenorist Dietschi offers a dexterous Post-Bop improvisation over a swinging medium groove, the piece ending with another recap of the ensemble section. And all those shifts are smoothly executed. "Tunnel Mountain," by Trumpeter McCullough, begins dramatically with a forceful repetitive figure underlying short back and forth choruses by soprano and trumpet, but also contains a lyrical piano solo over drums and an active bass line. Saxophonist Dietschi's "In Between" features shifting metes and a distorted Rock guitar sound.
The players excel in the ensemble parts and improvise at a high level in an up-to-date Mainstream Modern vein.