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Hugh Ragin: Fanfare & Fiesta

Jim Santella By

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Recorded last June, this session moves in three distinct directions. Two cameo appearances by Clark Terry invite a lighthearted swing element. The title track moves toward creative improvised music, and yet is still in line with the mainstream. The remainder of the album invites unpredictable behavior through composed counterpoint and exciting solo performances.

Hugh Ragin, 50, cites the World Saxophone Quartet as his inspiration. A varied career has allowed the trumpeter to befriend different musical themes. With David Murray, he's responsible for providing fresh ideas in a forward-leaning environment. As a teacher, Ragin follows a time honored approach toward what makes quality in music and what doesn't. His clear, bell-like tone, crisp articulation and extended range stand apart as paradigms. Ragin's approach has much in common with the perfectionist style of Wynton Marsalis. Their tastes, however, run worlds apart.

The title track bears a strong resemblance to "A Love Supreme." The natural theme repeats, while each trumpeter and pianist Craig Taborn turn it loose. Ragin's three final pieces, with an average length of eleven minutes per track, explore valuable creative territory. Much like Gallery (CIMP 177), his 1998 duo album with Marc Sabatella, Fanfare & Fiesta contains a curious mix of adventure and beauty. His "Harmonic Architecture" plays upon a harmolodic connection. Two pieces by Lester Bowie invite the four trumpeters to explore different aspects of the instrument's prescribed role. Conversing with distinctive trumpet voices, the foursome creates a flurry of excitement collectively, in pairs, and individually. It's each soloist's creative input that makes Ragin's second Justin Time album a success. The ensemble's members in turn, whether extended or in brief fours, wear a free attitude in their search for something new in jazz.

Track Listing: Finger Filibuster*, Fanfare & Fiesta, Spacemen*, Barnyard Scuffel Shuffel, How Strange, Harmonic Architecture, A Prayer For Lester Bowie, Emergency Exit

Personnel: Hugh Ragin, Clark Terry*, Dontae Winslow, Omar Kabir, James Zollar, trumpet; Craig Taborn, piano; Jaribu Shahid, bass; Bruce Cox, drums

Title: Fanfare & Fiesta | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Justin Time Records


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