Love Like Fire
is a wonderful showcase for trumpeter Rick Henley’s talents, which are many. Henly, who has been playing trumpet at least since age eight, we are told in the liner notes, can do almost anything he wants with a horn — except play Jazz. To his credit, he seldom tries, leaving most of the abridged improvisations on this strikingly lovely album to alto saxophonists Sal Spicola and Todd Bayshore, tenor Ken Hitchchock and trombonist Rick Stepton. Henly ad–libs only briefly, on Vincent Youmans’ “Without a Song” and Dick Lieb’s “Latin Doll,” showing clearly that had he played with Herman, Kenton, Basie or other celebrated Jazz ensembles he’d definitely have been in the lead chair. Henly’s pure sound, flawless technique, exceptional range and meticulous phrasing bring to mind such classical masters as Rafael Mendez or, closer to the Jazz orbit, Doc Severinsen or perhaps Maynard Ferguson (although each of them is a splendid improviser as well). If not Jazz, then what? Simply beautiful music, beautifully played by Henly and a large orchestra with strings and a vocal group (on Brian Taylor / Bettina Covo’s clever “Brandenburg Gait,” adapted from J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
, the standard “Once in a While” and the traditional hym “How Great Thou Art”). Henly is supported on “Latin Doll” by drummer Charli Persip’s big band, SuperSound, with whom he has played (presumably lead) in the past. Taylor, who also conducts, sketched most of the charts (the exception is “Sun and Moon,” arranged by Curtis McKonly), and each of them accomplishes its purpose, which is to provide a sumptuous backdrop for Henly’s singing trumpet. If it’s big–band Jazz you want, seek out Bob Florence, Bill Holman or the Boss Brass; for gorgeous music that’s wonderfully played but nods only fleetingly toward Jazz, try this.
Personnel: Rick Henly, trumpet, piccolo trumpet. Orchestra