Charlie Porter is an album that is musically and structurally reminiscent of those iconic M.C. Escher prints: dizzying ziggurats, waterfalls to some/nowhere and eye-teasing figure-ground images. Porter, with the able assistance of his local colleagues -all ace musicians -has created an intriguing, intelligent recording that simmers and boils over with ingenious original compositions, stellar musicianship, and a marvelous sense of puck.
"Prologue" has Porter's unaccompanied trumpet bellowing a five-note Miklos Rosza-like fanfare before he bursts into a fierce display of precision playing. Symmetries prevail on this superior session as each of the subsequent tracks adds another musician. After the apogee, "A Lover Scorned," the pattern reverses with the album closing with Porter's solo trumpet book-ending with the original fanfare plus. This production effect is slick but no gimmick.
"Mel Smiles" is an upbeat rhythmic duel-to-the-death with drummer, Mel Brown and his swashbuckling brush and set work. The duo is fascinatingly inventive. Porter's improvisational rhythmic vocabulary is a jazzman's Webster's throughout. "Rondo for Sticky" is a Cajun-flavored strutter with Porter testifying over Brown's drive and Lakey's bass-boom below.
Porter, a Juilliard grad and Paris Conservatoire attendee, is a technical phenom. The guy has a gorgeous sound, complete command of his horn, and vast creative juices to fuel that vehicle. While creatively his own man, he is obviously heavily influenced by Wynton Marsalis, offering smears, rips, wails, and biting stacattissimos which add to his technical and improvisational brilliance.
"New Beginnings" is a triple-metered Vince Guaraldi-shaded head which breaks into a speedy game of tag with tempos and meters alternating. Pianist, Jon "Sticky" Lakey and Porter burn on their solos. "A Love Scorned" is a darker devil's spawn of "Nica's Dream" (complete with tag from same). It is a highlight track on an album of many. Sax man, John Nastos' gives a third-degree solo. "Brown Study" re-ignites the original fanfare motif and launches into a slow misterioso expansion with Charles Mingus overtones via ensemble horns blaring and Porter and trombonist Moak and Nastos taking off dramatically. "Skain Train" is a down-home stomp, with Porter a snake-dancing dervish on the lead. And add a neat Majid Khaliq fiddle solo. Duke Ellington's "Morning Glory" is a jaunty stroll wherein Porter cops Pops. "Epilogue" has Porter's harmonized trumpet running pentatonic ribbons before the original motif reappears and calls Siren seductively.
Charlie Porter the album is a terrific exposition of creative compositions, instrumental brilliance and all-around superior playing. It certainly deserves a kingly "Porter's Stamp" of approval.
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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