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Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson goes above and beyond the confines of mere adulation for an American music icon. Seattle-based trumpeter Thomas Marriott creates a conceptual sonic flow, harnessing energy from the melodic and rhythmic legacy of some of Nelson's well known and not-so-well-known gems. For the bulk of the session Marriott is supported by a stellar crew of like-minded risk takers, including saxophonist Mark Taylor, keyboardist Ryan Burns, bassist Geoff Harper and drummer Matt Jorgensen.
The disc traverses a musical landscape full of twists and turns, moving ever-so-smoothly from techno- based grooves ("Phases & Stages, Circles & Cycles ), to 1970s-era fusion explorations ("Write Your Own Songs, "You Wouldn't Cross the Street ), to straight-ahead blowing ("I'm Building Heartaches ). Tracks like "Everywhere I Go and "Crazy are comparatively clear-cut, adhering to the accessible nature of Nelson's gorgeous melodies.
An emphasis on melody seems to be Marriott's top priority throughout the disc's eleven tracks. The trumpeter's warm-tone and exuberance breathes life into simple, yet sumptuous themes such as "The Great Divide and "On the Road Again. An exciting soloist, Marriott's improvised dueling with Taylor's soprano saxophone on "I'm Building Heartaches stands out as a disc highlight.
Jorgensen and Harper keep things grounded while maintaining a loose, open-ended rapport with each groove. Burns snakes his way through the disc with inventive soloing and distorted synth clusters. His out-of- left-field accompaniment on the second half of "Crazy is worth the price of admission. Guest keyboardist Wayne Horwitz creates an electronic frenzy on the Weather Report-influenced "Write Your Own Songs the groove is practically a carbon copy of Joe Zawinul's "Black Market.
The music from this session may be hard to categorize, but the same can be said of Nelson. The eclectic nature of the iconic singer/songwriter's catalogue lends itself surprisingly well to Marriott's liberal approach.
Track Listing: Phases & Stages, Circles & Cycles; Everywhere I Go; Write Your Own Songs; You Wouldnít Cross the Street;
Blame It on the Times; Iím Building Heartaches; The Great Divide; Crazy; Time Slips Away; One In a Row; On the
Personnel: Thomas Marriott: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mark Taylor: saxophone; Ryan Burns: Moog synthesizer, Fender Rhodes;
Geoff Harper: bass; Matt Jorgensen: drums; Wayne Horwitz: keyboards (3); Rick Mandyck: guitar (10), vocal (11);
Cecil Young: gong (11).
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.