Richie Vitale: Vitalogy (2012)
Richie Vitale is a fixture of the New York music scene, a veteran trumpeter with a resume that includes The Buddy Rich Big Band, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Vitalogy is not a big band recording, but features Vitale in a quintet format blowing through a short repertoire of power-packed bop, balladic and Latin-flavored originals. Each of the six tracks on this EP-length release is a keeper, offering rich melodies and harmonic lines deserving attention and repeated spins.
Young baritone saxophonist Frank Basileanother in-demand rising star in the city's jazz scenetakes on the other lead role here, lending his burly sound to Vitale's, delivering tasteful lines in complimentary fashion. Penned over the same chord structure as saxophonist John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and kicking off the set with one of its best tunes, the title track evolves into a burner that features steamy solos from Vitale and Basile. The light and beautiful "A Promise Kept" follows the high-energy opener with a distinctly different tone, highlighted by a warm solo from Nial Djuliarso, as Vitale lyrically mixes in between the pianist and Basile's delicate lines.
Vitale borrows an idea from Sonny Rollins, basing "Nattahnam" (Manhattan in reverse) on the chord structure of the great saxophonist's bebop standard "Airegin" (Nigeria in reverse). Unleashing a two-horn attack on the melody, Vitale develops a boppish flair that, while similar in texture to Rollins' classic, builds upon its distinctive melodic sound. With the trumpeter blowing deliberate strong phrases, it's the rhythm section of Djuliarso, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Cliff Barbaro that comes to the fore on another burner, "To The Beat of a Different Drummer."
Vitale scores the humbling and tender "Eulogy for Freddie" in tribute to deceased trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, leading on flugelhorn with stellar support from Djuliarso. Finishing much like it began, the album closes on another fiery note on the spectacular and danceable "Rumba Para Los Ninos," employing a touch of Latin rhythm propelled by pulsating solos.
Whether offering shoulder-moving Latin burners, tasteful soft ballads or blowing up a storm with a selection of bop-infused originals, Vitale's innovative and creative Vitalogy may just be one of those superbly entertaining yet hidden gems that inevitably finds its way to audiences and jazz radio playlists.
Track Listing: Vitalogy; A Promise Kept; Nattaham; To the Beat of a Different Drummer; Eulogy for Freddie; Rumba Para Los Ninos.
Personnel: Richie Vitale: trumpet, flugelhorn (5); Frank Basile: baritone saxophone; Nial Djuliarso: piano; Cliff Barbaro: drums; Paul Gill: bass; Chacho Ramirez: bongos (6).
Record Label: Gut String Records