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Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott East West Trumpet Summit: Coast to Coast

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Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott East West Trumpet Summit: Coast to Coast
Coast to Coast is the third East West Trumpet Summit recorded by Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott in a musical partnership that has spanned nearly three decades. The years have been kind, and when it comes to playing persuasive jazz, neither Vega nor Marriott appears to have lost a step. Marriott, a native of Seattle, and Vega, New York-born and bred, first met in 1995, and the mutual admiration and respect was immediate. Their first two albums as co-leaders were exceptional, and Coast to Coast is no less so, with the front-liners in superior form and backed by a blue-chip rhythm section anchored by celebrated drummer Roy McCurdy with the always-dependable Orrin Evans on piano and rock-solid Michael Glynn on bass.

In sum, the quintet plays engaging and listenable music that swings in the finest tradition of such renowned trumpet duos as Fats Navarro and Howard McGhee or Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw. For the listener, that is about as good as it gets. The material is first-class too, with a trio of bright original compositions by Marriott interspersed among as many standards and good-natured themes by George Cables, Don Cherry and Charles Mingus. The standards were penned by Carl Fischer ("You've Changed"), Wilbur Bird ("Broadway") and Neal Hefti ("Girl Talk").

Vega and Marriott give each of them a cheerful ride while Evans, Glynn and McCurdy make sure the rhythmic pulse never wavers. For listening purposes, the notes say that Marriott is heard stereo-left, Vega stereo-right, but that's largely irrelevant, as there is not much to choose between two masters whose approach to the music is by and large synchronous and complementary. No matter who is playing, the sound is luminous and clear, the ad-libs sharp and clever. The trumpets are open most of the way, muted on Marriott's charming, samba-like "Front Row Family."

Marriott's other compositions, "One Day at a Time" and "Quarter Nelson," are old-school swingers whose hustle and bustle brings out the best in everyone, as do the high-spirited "Broadway" and even Charles Mingus' "So Long Eric," which closes the album on a luminous and even-tempered note. The quintet has more fun on Cables' melodious "I Told You So" (nimble solo by Evans), Cherry's frisky "Art Deco" and Hefti's syrupy nod to idle chit-chat, "Girl Talk." "You've Changed," the only true ballad on the menu, is simply more grist for the quintet's efficiently run mill.

From start to finish, the third edition of East West Trumpet Summit is delightful to hear and appreciate, not only for Vega and Marriott's singular artistry but for the splendid choice of music and the indispensable support provided by an astute and responsive rhythm section. Notwithstanding the music's many detours, when placed in the best of hands straight-ahead jazz can be as inventive and pleasing as ever.

Track Listing

One Day at a Time; I Told You So; You've Changed; Broadway; Art Deco; Girl Talk; Quarter Nelson; Front Row Family; So Long Eric.

Personnel

Ray Vega
trumpet
Michael Glynn
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Coast to Coast | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Origin Records

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