Chuck Weirich: You Don't Know Me (2011)
The great trumpeter Arturo Sandoval once commented that Trumpet Evolution (Crescent Moon, 2003) was one of his most challenging musical efforts. In that tour de trumpet, Sandoval brilliantly performed selections made famous or associated with great trumpet playersfrom Louis Armstrong to Maynard Ferguson to Wynton Marsaliswith all the nuance, phrasing and sound of the original artist.
WithYou Don't Know Me, Tampa-based trumpeter Chuck Weirich proceeds in a similar cover-the-Masters vein, with ten selections popularized by individuals Weirich claims he idolizes, including Herb Alpert, Chuck Mangione and Hugh Masakela. The idolatry is, apparently, quite sincere; there's a time machine at play here, and an unpretentious one at that.
It is one thing to record tunes associated with some of the trumpet greats of popular commercial music, but it certainly takes chutzpah and incredible talent to cover them to the fine, nuanced degree with which Weirich does. He doesn't miss.
There's a sublime joy in the musicand, specifically, in Weirich's playing. It comes across from the first blatsnot his; rather, a faux auto hornof Alpert's "Tijuana Taxi." Other Alpert hits predominate. Masakela's "Grazing in the Grass" gets a cover, as does Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good." Weirich, also a successful DJ, spins other non-trumpet hits including "Winelight" and "You're Beautiful," and they also sparkle.
Weirich's trumpet sound is bright, and he blows big and lush on renditions of Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me" and the James Ingram/ Quincy Jones collaboration, "Just Once." He displays fine professional trumpet artistry with his smooth phrasing and dead-on articulation, delivered creatively in tasteful, well-constructed improvised solo forays. And, in keeping with the overall approach, his solos are not overly complicatedand, ultimately, congruent with the commercial genre.
Kudos goes to the highly-spirited and energized rhythm section, which buys into the cover caper and adds additional flavor to the well-worn originals. While not a straight-ahead, smooth jazz or breakthrough CD, the result is no pretense, nostalgic, and highly enjoyable.
Excavated commercial hits yanked from a much simpler time both musically and culturally? Sure. But this hit-covering is a satisfying near-homer.
Track Listing: Tijuana Taxi, You Don't Know Me, Whipped Cream, You're Beautiful, A Taste of Honey, Just Once, Winelight, Feels So Good, Rise, Grazing in the Grass.
Personnel: Chuck Weirich: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocal effects (9); Dan Hause: tenor saxophone (8); Stacey Knights: tenor saxophone (10); Robin Foreman: keyboards (1, 3, 5, 9); Skip Nallia: keyboards; Brad Carlton: guitar (6, 8-10); Mike Conway: bass (9), guitars, percussion, trombone, moose calls and effects (5-10); Dennis Smith: drums (2-8, 10).
Record Label: Self Produced