Los Angeles-based trumpeter Scott Steen has made a name for himself as a long-time member of the popular swing band, Royal Crown Revue, and as a featured soloist for vocalist Bette Midler. On Playing Favorites
, Steen, taking the reigns as leader, pays tribute to his musical heroes with a swinging set of standards and hard pop classics.
Steen reminds listeners of the controlled, yet tremendous power of Freddie Hubbard on Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" and "One Finger Snap." The trumpeter displays a strong, focused tone with accurate well-phrased lines.
Something of a musical chameleon, Steen shifts with ease from the hard-edged echoes of Hubbard to the contemplative lyricism used to pay homage to Miles Davis. With his muted weaving on "I Could Write a Book," patient melodic development on "Blue in Green" and fiery aggression on "Pharaoh Stance," Steen proves himself a skillful interpreter of the various stages of Davis' career.
Steen's highly competent sidemen are eager to assist in the disc's classic jazz re-creations. Alto saxophonist Jim Jedeikin, tenor saxophonist Mando Dorame and pianist Ken Charlson are all strong soloists with adept knowledge of the hard bop language. Bassist David Miller is rock solid throughout and drummer Daniel Glass is both supportive and electrifying.
Playing Favorites is a well-conceived collection of straight-ahead gems featuring heartfelt performances. Steen reveals himself as a dynamic trumpeter able to look forward while staying indebted to the past.
Personnel: Scott Steen: trumpet; Ken Charlson: piano, Wurlitzer (9); David Miller: bass; Daniel Glass: drums; Jim Jedeikin: alto saxophone; Mando Dorame: tenor saxophone; Vinnie Santino: electric bass (9).