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Thomas Marriott: Human Spirit

C. Michael Bailey By

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Human Spirit is trumpeter Thomas Marriott's seventh critically well-received recording for the West Coast Origin Records label. Marriott shakes things up by using an organ trio format as his vehicle, to quite great effect. Marriott and his merry Origin Records band pushes forth the definition of the "new" West Coast jazz, while at the same time giving Origin Records an aural definition as identifiable as the ECM Sound of the heralded German label.

Marriott provides five original compositions to the three standards making up Human Spirit, opening with an arrangement of "You Don't Know What Love Is" that could have been the product of a Chet Baker methamphetamine speedball. Marriott takes the ballad at about twice its normal tempo, breaking the melody into jagged pieces, fluidly following, one after another. The organ trio accompaniment sounds modern and progressive, tastefully greasy without being unhealthy.

Marriott's trumpet sound is as solid as it is round. Even at high velocity, Marriott holds his notes together, a squeak or squawk being rare or non-existent. But Marriott is not the only principle here: alto saxophonist Mark Taylor, an Origin Arts mainstay, provides saxophone wares that are all over the map, from straight bop to beyond, wailing plaintively on "Hiding in Public," while hitting a simmer on the minor-key blues, "Yakima."

Gary Versace lends a new brand of organ to this date, one that is old and new. He provides the roux that holds this rich assembly together. His contribution is dirty funk on Miles Davis' "The Brown Hornet," all sideways fashioned and angular, pushing the envelope while remaining between the lines of the song.

Human Spirit works in all quarters, hitting on all cylinders while delivering a bang-up good jazz time. Hopefully this is the future.

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