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TickleJuice lands at Zullo Gallery

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By Cameron Small
Hometown Weekly Intern

Launching their first CD in 2014 entitled “Roots to the Stars,” TickleJuice proclaims “they are truly stationary travelers reaching the ends of the galaxy without ever leaving the stage…” and they certainly proved themselves to be stationary galactic travelers in their performance last Friday, May 20, at the Zullo Gallery.

TickleJuice has played in Medfield before. They held their CD launch party at the Zullo Gallery, but have played at the Unitarian Church. If anything, the eccentricities were stronger then - James Merenda, the band leader and alto saxophonist, used to wear sunglasses and a magenta horned hat (pictures of which can be seen on the band’s website). He would also fill the first few rows at certain gigs with stuffed animals to make it seem, for the musicians, that there was a larger audience present. On Friday, however, it seemed fairly calm as Merenda left both the magenta horned hat and the stuffed animals at home - though he did still refer to himself as “Centaur the Corillian.”

To describe the sound of TickleJuice would not be an easy task for someone who does not regularly listen to jazz. Nor would they be everyone’s cup of tea. Mix Sun Ra with Charles Mingus, stir in some Miles Davis, add a dash of Ornette Coleman, and simmer, carefully folding in Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane.

TickleJuice constantly has new music being performed. Tunes like “Saul Goodman,” “Basically Florida,” or “Sir Kumference and the Foot Prince” give even devoted fans something new to listen to. In the case of “Sir Kumference and the Foot Prince,” fans get to participate, too. Unafraid of returning to their earlier material, TickleJuice still plays fan favorites like “Kovlom.letlovecome,” “Emilia,” (not played on Friday), and “Don’t Play with Dinosaurs” (also not played on Friday).

Dan Rull, a former student under TickleJuice cornet player Tom Duprey, said they’re “Incredibly creative and fun to listen to.” He went on to add: “You don’t really see anything like this around anymore, so it’s really cool to check out.”

Experiencing TickleJuice for the first time, Medfield resident Amelia Tarallo says, “It was a brand new sound, really entertaining, two things I don’t normally associate with jazz concerts. It was unexpected in a good way, a very good way.”

For more information about upcoming shows, or to listen to some of TickleJuice’s music, check out www.ticklejuicemusic.com.

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