Marcus Printup: Jazz at Prague Castle 2007, Street Expressionism & Bird of Paradise

Ken Dryden By

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Marcus Printup/Emil Viklicky Trio
Jazz at Prague Castle 2007

Paradigm Shift
Street Expressionism
Nagel Heyer

Marcus Printup
Bird of Paradise: The Music of Charlie Parker

Trumpeter Marcus Printup made a bit of a splash with several potent CDs for Blue Note in the second half of the '90s, but as opportunities to record as a leader dried up for him in the US, he has successfully turned his attention to Europe. Printup is an open-minded player who gives his all in any setting, whether playing standards or time-tested jazz compositions or new music given to him on a record date.

Marcus Printup met pianist Emil Viklicky while playing with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in 2004, when Viklicky was one of several composers commissioned to write works for the dedication of the then-new Frederick P. Rose Hall. Though Viklicky hasn't recorded much (if at all) outside of Europe, he studied at Berklee for a time and is familiar to savvy jazz fans aware of his 1981 duo record with the late James Williams. Printup made an impression on Viklicky with his improvised solo that evening, eventually leading to an invitation to perform with the pianist in the Jazz at Prague Castle series.

Printup embraces the Czech's music, especially his unusual "In Holomoc Town," which blends Moravian folk elements with modern post-bop into a lyrical, "Summertime"-flavored ballad. Viklicky's "Mystery of Man Blues" could easily be mistaken for originating in Memphis or New Orleans; the composer's down-home piano supports Printup's richly textured, muted horn. The creative arrangements of two familiar tunes are also noteworthy. The pianist's lush improvised introduction to Herbie Hancock's masterful "Dolphin Dance" leads into a looser than usual variation of this familiar theme. "Body and Soul" is an obligatory ballad for every jazz musician, though the challenge is to break new ground. While they don't stray from the expected tempo or changes, both Printup and Viklicky offer the sound of surprise in their expressive interpretation of this timeless chestnut.

In spite of the confusing billing of the artists on the cover to Street Expressionism, this CD features the trio Paradigm Shift—guitarist Melvin Henderson, organist Gerry Youngman and drummer Jared Schonig. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and Printup make their second guest appearance with the band, with reed player Gray Mayfield replacing vibraphonist Joe Locke. Youngman is a conservative keyboardist, showing a remarkable subtlety and light touch, while Henderson sounds a bit like George Benson in the early pre-crossover stage of his career. The emphasis in these sessions is jazz funk and a bit of soul jazz, though they have a few surprises in store. Schonig provides double duty on drums and an overdubbed piano solo in the swaggering blues "Fallin' Through the Crack." The hilarious introduction to "Lulu's Back in Town" has a swaying New Orleans street rhythm in support of Gordon, Mayfield (on alto sax) and Printup, with the three guests adding a good-natured vocal chorus at the conclusion. Mayfield's soulful alto is the focus of a hip treatment of Percy Mayfield's "Give Me a Break" and vocalist Annie Sellick is added for a loungey but delicious take of "Small Day Tomorrow."

Printup and veteran saxophonist Ted Nash are joined by bassist Kengo Nakamura and drummer Shinnoshuke Takahashi for Bird of Paradise, a tribute to Charlie Parker. But this is no mere blowing session going through typical arrangements of material written or recorded by Parker. The leader's decision to omit a piano provides a degree of freedom for the horn players, while the judicious use of harpist Riza Hequibal, whether playing rhythm or taking brief solos on several selections, adds a novel touch to the small group. Printup's full sound has a vocal quality to it, as no lyrics are needed in his effective treatments of "Lover Man," heard in two separate versions. Miles Davis' engaging "Donna Lee," a reworking of "(Back Home Again in) Indiana," is an explosive affair with terrific interplay by Printup and Nash (on alto). But the session highlight is the breezy interpretation of "Confirmation," opening with a tightly interwoven duet by Printup and Nash, following with fresh approaches to this bop favorite by each. The powerful blues "Parker's Mood" displays Printup's sassy side while he plays muted horn, with Nash on tenor, in a spirited extended workout of "The Hymn."

Tracks and Personnel

Jazz at Prague Castle 2007

Tracks: Highlands, Lowlands; In Holom?Town; Mystery Of Man Blues; Dolphin Dance; LA(A;sko, Bo?e, ? Body And Soul.

Personnel: Marcus Printup: trumpet; Emil ViklickA(?: piano; Franti¹ek Uhle: bass; Laco Tropp: drums.

Street Expressionism

Tracks: Street Expressionism; Fallin' Through The Crack; Candi; In My Life; Lulu's Back In Town; A Small Day Tomorrow; Give Me A Break; Just This; One Last Time; On The River Mosel.

Personnel: Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, vocals; Marcus Printup: trumpet, vocals; Gray Mayfield: saxophones, flute, vocals; Melvin Henderson: electric guitar; Gerry Youngman: organ; Jared Schonig: drums, piano, Annie Sellick: vocals; Aaron Staebell: drums.

Bird of Paradise: The Music of Charlie Parker

Tracks: Stupendous; Now's the Time; Lover Man [Take 2]; Bird of Paradise; Donna Lee; Parker's Mood; Hymn; Quasimodo; Lover Man [Take 1]; Confirmation; Bird Feathers.

Personnel: Marcus Printup: trumpet, Ted Nash: alto sax, tenor sax; Kengo Nakamura: bass; Shinnosuke Takahashi: drums; Riza Herbqibal: harp.


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