Jacob Varmus: All the Things We Still Can Be (2006)
Some influences are readily apparent on trumpeter Jacob Varmus' debut disc, All the Things We Still Can Be, especially Chet Baker and Miles Davis, circa mid-'50s to mid-'60s. The set opens with a buoyant Varmus original, "Ecstatic Little Porpoises." Varmus' tone is warm and round and a bit soft-tufted, like Baker's, as he blows a bright and engaging melody.
The title tune explores gentle mid-tempo lyicism, while "Untimely Intrusion" slips into darker territory, with an insistent rhythm and an edge, the rhythm sounding a bit like Miles Davis "Side Car II" from Circle in the Round (Columbia, '79), with guitarist Nate Radley adding a George Benson sting to the sound. It's back to Chet Baker territory for the American Songbook classic "Everything Happens to Me," with a floating rhythm and lyrical trumpet; Varmus adds a Chet-like vocal at the end.
Varmus' own original voice surfaces on his "Country Dave Tex Mex," which includes interesting harmonies, a bit of Latin perussion, and the leader blowing with a tart tone. On "What is This Thing We Still Can Be" Varmus plays muted at first, then transitions to open horn, on a workout that recalls Miles' mid-'60s music. The set's bassist, Yoshi Waki, penned the closer, "Perpetual Motion," which features a rubbery groove behind some of Varmus' prettiest blowing, along with some beautiful French horn/trumpet harmony.
An engaging debut from trumpeter Jacob Varmus.
Track Listing: Ecstatic Little Porpoises; All the Things We Still Can Be; Untimely Intrusion; Why Don't You Dance?; Everything Happens to Me; Country Dave Tex Mex; What is This Thing We Still Can Be?; Why Don't You Dance?; Perpetual Motion.
Personnel: Jacob Varmus: trumpet and cornet, vocal (5); Nate Bradley: guitar; Toru Dodo: piano; Yoshi Waki: bass; Brian Woodruff: drums; Chris Komer: French horn (9).
Record Label: Self Produced