It is a joyful thing to listen to trumpeters playing so beautifully as these gentlemen but even more wondrous is the fact that the repertoire curated on This is Trumpetology is well-chosen to represent an important period in Jazz history. It was, after all, the trumpet that came to stand for Jazz music from its earliest days. Why Pops is not represented here will forever be a mystery and a bone of contention for me. We’ve not yet found anything that Buddy Bolden may have recorded, so until then we must worship Louis Armstrong for without Louis Armstrong, one can only wonder Jazz trumpet would be. Despite what I discern as something bordering on sacrilegious, this is a truly fine disc indeed. Here’s why.
The trumpets are exquisitely played. Soloists wax eloquent each time they are called upon to be lead voices. Subtle variances in phrasing separate the horn blowers, embouchure is incredible and you will, by the end of it all, begin to appreciate how difficult it really is to play a trumpet well, by listening to the sheer mastery of these trumpeters. But none of this would have been possible were it not for the writing of each one’s part. For this Walter Simonsen deserves all the credit. Here is a young musician who knows how to preserve the idiomatic beauty of the originals while bringing a fresh perspective to each song. It could not have been easy to ‘write’ like Dizzy Gillespie, then ‘write’ like Lee Morgan, and then write like Freddie Hubbard, and Miles Davis… Clifford Brown. And then to bring out such a variety of tonal colour without another brass (trombone), a woodwind (saxophone), or a reed (flute) instrument in sight to provide the variety of shades and timbres that made the originals what they were in the first place.
So there is much to cheer about here. I would go further and suggest that one of the finest music on this repertoire may be heard on ‘Sidewinder’ and on ‘Prince Albert’. In both tracks the homages paid to Lee Morgan and Kenny Dorham is completed by the exquisite labyrinthine treatment of the respective melodies and the densely woven contrapuntal lines that ensue – all of this played with magical transitions from chorus to chorus, with intelligent dynamics and with shimmering poise. The rhythm section is not only rock-solid, but significant. The pianist Kait Dunton plays with extraordinary precision and finesse. She lights up ‘Summertime’. The other members of this ensemble, referred to as ‘rhythm-ologists’ also rise to the occasion and play with unfaltering bravura and conviction. They are all worthy of taking their seats at the ‘high table’ of this recording, which is altogether superb.
Track List: Autumn Leaves; Milestones; Sidewinder; Anthropology; Blues Walk; Skydive; Prince Albert; So What; Unit 7; Summertime; I Wish.
Personnel: Walter Simonsen: trumpet, leader, arranger, emcee; James Blackwell: trumpet; Brian Mantz: trumpet (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10); Cameron Summers: trumpet (1, 2, 9); Tim Gill: trumpet (vocals on 10); Brian Owen: trumpet; Kait Dunton: piano (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11); Adam Bravo: piano (1, 2, 9); Alex Frank: bass (1, 2, 9); Cooper Appelt: bass (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11); Adam Alesi: drums (1, 2, 9); Jake Reed: drums (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11).
Label: Simonsen Sounds
Release date: October 2015
Running time: 1:06:31