There’s quite a backstory behind Clutch of the Tiger in that no one seems to know who Clutchy Hopkins is. Shawn Lee knows who Hopkins is though, and it’s very likely he sees him every time he looks in the mirror.

If you care to believe otherwise there’s a rather lengthy story involving a chance encounter, the exchange of a tiger mask, the discovery of music found on a cassette stuck in the mask and then the completion of this album via long-distance collaboration. At the least the tale provides something to talk about while you’re grooving, chilling and slinking around to the album’s sublime melding of jazzy piano melodies set to subtle funk beats.

The music, too, is kind of mysterious. On “Things Change” the piano dips into a spy vs. spy register while short trills of horror house organ build on the ominous theme. This isn’t quite Halloween stuff though; the eerie vibe permeating this set of instrumentals is more fit for the cool cat that’s on the prowl looking for whatever fun the night brings.

Grade: A

Clutch of the Tiger is currently available.