Trumpeter and composer Charlie Porter exhibits his innovative spirit and his brilliant musicianship on his self-titled debut as a leader. Working with a rotating cast of Portland (Oregon) area musicians, Porter performs ten of his originals and one cover with a refreshingly unique style and captivating spontaneity.
Similar in concept to tenor saxophonist Benny Golson's Take a Number from 1 to 10 (Argo, 1961), Porter's release starts off with the unaccompanied trumpet piece "Prologue" that quotes motifs from the other tunes on the recording. Porter then adds an instrument per track until the intricately constructed and dramatic "Brown Study," that features a sextet. Here the similarity with Golson ends as Porter goes back down to smaller and smaller ensembles until his solo, the baroque tinged, "Epilogue."
The album goes from the effervescent to the cinematic and from the whimsical to the haunting. "Mel Smiles," for instance, is a boppish duet with drummer Mel Brown. Porter's vibrant and sonorous phrases alternate with and overlap Brown's energetic polyrhythms. In contrast Porter's dialogue with pianist George Colligan, "Anthem," is melancholic and endowed with a western classical romanticism. The exchanges of the horn's warm lilting tones and the keyboard's bright crystalline cascades are reminiscent of pianist Jelly Roll Morton and cornetist Joseph "King" Oliver's classic 1924 recordings.
Elsewhere, the playful "Skain Train" matches Porter's eloquent improvisation with bassist Cary Miga's thrillingly lithe lines and drummer Tim Rap's rustling brushes. Violinist Majid Khaliq contributes a Hot Club ambience with his mellifluous bowing and gypsy-esque agility. The impressionistic and tense "A Lover Scorned" features Porter at his most contemplative as the rhythm trio percolates in the backdrop. Saxophonist John Nastos complements Porter with his passionate, wailing alto and also matches the energy of pianist Greg Goebel's fast paced performance.
On this delightful and stimulating work Porter draws on diverse influences, utilizes a large number of sidemen yet crafts a cohesive whole. It is no doubt an ambitious effort the successful realization of which is a testament to Porter's prodigious talent and imaginative creativity.
Prologue; Mel Smiles; Rondo for Sticky; New
Beginnings; A Lover Scorned; Brown Study;
Messenger; Skain Train; Morning Glory;
Charlie Porter: trumpet; John Nastos: alto and
soprano saxophones; David Evans: tenor
saxophone; John Moak: trombone; Majid
Khaliq: violin; Christopher Woitach: guitar;
David Goldblatt: piano; Greg Goebel: piano;
George Colligan: piano; Dan Gaynor: piano;
Tim Gilson: bass; Cary Miga: bass; Jon Lakey:
bass; Chuck Israels: bass; Bill Athens: bass;
Alan Jones: drums; Michael Raynor: drums;
Christopher Brown: drums; Mel Brown: drums;
Tim Rap: drums.
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