Rebecca Coupe Franks Exhibition: Tribute to Joe Henderson
Rebecca Coupe Franks is a California-bred and -based trumpet player. Her newest CD Exhibition: Tribute to Joe Henderson is reflective of years she spent in New York City, and her friendship with, and mentorship from the late master tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson. Franks’ new recording features ten original tunes written in remembrance of the spirit of Joe Henderson’s personality and his music.
Franks’ tone on the trumpet is a unique one. It is not the big fat warm sound that one would associate with Clifford Brown, Wynton Marsalis or Bobby Shew. Nor is her sound similar to the “dead” vibrato-less, yet commanding tone of Miles Davis. To this listener there is the somewhat odd combination of a tone similar to that of Dizzy Gillespie’s (without Gillespie’s pyrotechnics) commingled with a delicate, laid back, insouciant, small type sound similar to what one would associate with Chet Baker. As a player, she also tends to favor a relatively succinct and somewhat sparse style that hangs mostly (although not exclusively) to the lower and middle register of the trumpet rather than showering the listener with bebop lines played dazzlingly in the upper register of the instrument. The other musicians playing with Franks also demonstrate more than merely competent abilities, and Franks’ arrangements provide ample opportunities to demonstrate their skills as soloists.
As a composer, Rebecca Coupe Franks demonstrates she has a fertile and imaginative mind when writing. She explores a number of styles. The tune “Detroit Blues,” is a jazz rock piece filled with different riffs and melodic ideas woven into the musical texture. “Los Palmos” delves into the realm of Latin inspired music with an interesting unaccompanied introduction played by solo trumpet that climaxes with a riff that brings in the rest of the band. Another Latin inspired piece is the bossa nova “Ode to Joe,” with the title inspired by Henderson’s 1966 album Mode for Joe. “Rain and Tears” is a very sensitive ballad presented in two versions. One version with the full band to close the recording and one with Franks accompanied only by pianist Adam Schulman. Both versions are very effective.
“Page Two” is a moving modal jazz waltz that contrasts well with the preceding up-tempo burner “Wow” that opens the CD. The tune “Inspiration,” reflects the influence of Henderson’s ability to play effectively both inside and outside of the chord changes. “Sincere” is a straight ahead 32-bar bop tune that affords bassist Essiet Okon Essiet some room to stretch his creative and improvisatory muscle. “Exhibition,” the title cut, has Franks reaching the furthest of any of her improvisatory efforts on the recording, introducing a number of creative melodic ideas and sound effects during her solo, and a visit to the rarefied air of the trumpet’s upper register. Gentle Soul is a medium tempo swinger that provides plenty of “blowing space” for Franks, bassist Essiet and pianist Schulman.
Exhibition is a very listenable recording that will not overwhelm the listener or leave the listener scratching their head in wonderment. In comparing Franks’ music to that of her former mentor, she has crafted some very interesting tunes and accomplished a fine tribute to Joe Henderson.
Tracks: Wow, Page Two, Detroit Blues, Los Palmos, Rain and Tears (duet), Ode to Joe, Inspiration, Sincere, Exhibition, Gentle Soul, Rain and Tears (band).
Personnel: Rebecca Coupe Franks (trumpet), Sylvia Cuenca (drums), Essiet Okon Essiet (bass), Adam Schulman (piano).
Visit Rebecca Coupe Franks on the web at rebeccacoupefranks.com .