Septuagenarian trumpeter Carl Saunders
, whose horn served and enhanced the music of Stan Kenton
, Ella Fitzgerald
, Frank Sinatra
and numerous other icons, has been a steady presence on the Summit Records imprint. Whether exploring rare Bill Holman
charts or crafting a program with a patriotic shine, acting as a featured guest with the Gary Urwin
Jazz Orchestra, adding some signature zest to the Phil Norman
Tentet's material, or offering up his compositions for an ongoing songbook project with heavy-duty leader-participants like Roger Kellaway
and Larry Koonse
, Saunders has remained a central figure in the label's catalog. Now, with the arrival of this plainly titled date, he adds to that list with a fairly straightforward set.
Leading an A-list quartet rounded out with pianist Josh Nelson
, bassist Chuck Berghofer
and drummer Joe La Barbera
, Saunders designs a well-mixed collection of classics and originals that pleases without pushing the envelope or resorting to gimmickry. These four need no tricks to sell anything. For them, it's simply about the music, good time(s) and great taste. Making an energetic entrance with Joe Henderson
's "Recorda Me," Saunders and company make clear that they mean business. Four other wholly familiar nuggetsa joyful "All The Things You Are" with La Barbera trading in good spirits, the solidly swinging "I Thought About You" with a muted Saunders charming his way through the changes, a reasonably-paced "Cherokee" bookended by its flowing bridge, and the delightful "Pick Yourself Up"spread additional good cheer.
With the exception of the appearance of trumpeter Tom Harrell
's "Sail Away"a cool-headed, bossa-esque beauty that's become a latter-day standardeverything else remaining in the set comes from Saunders' fertile pen. From the blues, spied in sly fashion on "Say What," to quiet charms, packaged in balladic dressings on "Patience," to light-touch bop, given over through "Tofu Or Not Tofu," he makes his mark as a composer with an ear for quality melodies and structural nuance(s). Putting that warm, almost flugelhorn-like trumpet sound to good use, and encouraging his band mates to add their gifts to the music, Saunders delivers a record that's really all smiles. It's far too easy to fall for Jazz Trumpet
Recorda Me; All The Things You Are; Say What; Sail Away; I Thought About You; Flim Flam; Patience; Cherokee; Tofu Or Not Tofu; Dusk And
Dawn; Pick Yourself Up, Walking On Air.