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Joe Magnarelli: Mr. Mags

C. Andrew Hovan By

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At a time when many contemporary jazz trumpeters seem to be pushing to the extremes (i.e. Russell Gunn’s rap/world beat groove or Dave Douglas’ avant stance), a player like Joe Magnarelli might seem more like a throw back to the past. A great reader and reliable sideman, Magnarelli can run down the bebop or blow pretty, depending on what the situation calls. He also possesses a crisp and burnished tone that is immediately attractive. But it would be unfair to suggest that the trumpeter is stuck in a time warp. More accurately, Magnarelli excels in the mainstream tradition and has found his own voice within such structures.

His third set as a leader for Criss Cross, Mr. Mags is certainly nothing radically different from past endeavors, yet it offers further sustenance in an area where swing and melodic integrity are at a premium. Pacing is particularly strong, as the rapid “215 #1” (Coltrane’s “Countdown” seems to be an inspiration here) gives way to the lilting waltz tempo of “Our Song.” Pure bebop marks Jim Snidero’s “Passage,” “I Should Care” provides for Magnarelli’s ballad feature, “Oh, Suzanne” is a Latin romp, and “Blue Opus” taps, of course, the blues.

It’s not often these days that we hear a trumpet-alto sax front line, so the pairing of Magnarelli and Snidero seems like a very sagacious choice. So too, pianist David Hazeltine puts his stamp on the proceedings with his advanced sense of harmony. So if your tastes run toward the adventurous this may not cut it for you, but those with middle-of-the-road sensibilities will find much to sink their teeth into.


Track Listing: 215 #1; Our Song; Passage; I Should Care; Mean What You Say; Oh' Suzanne; Blue Opus; Mississippi Jazz Club.

Personnel: Joe Magnarelli--trumpet; Jim Snidero--alto sax, flute; David Hazeltine--piano; John Webber--bass; Tony Reedus--drums.

Title: Mr. Mags | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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