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Second, Additional Thoughts. AAJ collegue Jim Santella opined on Marcus Printup's most recent release Nocturnal Traces in the December 1998 issue of the magazine stating that "Printup's Tone is thin and pure; his technique down-to-earth..." That is exactly how I found this recording and I wanted to further discuss its fineness against the larger backdrop of larger ensemble jazz.
Stripping Down. One of my central loves in classical music is Georg Fredric Handel's Messiah. This oratorio has been interpreted in dozens of ways, but a recent trend has been to reduce both the orchestra and chorus. This has typically made classical strict constructionists bristle. I, however, find this bare-minimum performance approach illuminating and educational. So with Nocturnal Traces. After having listened to Roy Hargrove's Habana, Wynton Marsalis' Standards Volume 5, and Nicholas Payton's most recent recordings (all which are very fine), it is rejuvenating to here a simple trumpet quartet performing a collection half of standards and half of originals, in a straight-forward yet novel manner.
When to Explore.... One of the most appealing things about Nocturnal Traces is how familiar it sounds. Certainly there is no new musical ground broken here, but that is not the point. This is a recording of a young trumpeter with his regular band. They have a beautiful empathy and understanding of one another that is reflected in their playing, most particularly the ballads. Viewing this group as a soloist supported by a piano trio, the fit is perfect. The rhythm section is evenly integrated in performance and engineering. Printup's trumpet is fresh and pleasant to hear. His musical ideas are well constructed and are synergistically augmented by pianist Kevin Bales. All of this is capably supported on the rock that is Ricky Ravelo and Woody Williams.
Standards/Originals. The highlights of this disc full of highlights are the original opener "Woody's Beat" a Post Bop extravaganza employing the full range of Printup's Quartet's talents and the age old standard "Ain't Misbehavin'", given a wonderful blues treatment. This disc is as refreshing and tart as a gin and tonic in the summertime.
Track Listing: Woody's Beat. Have You Met Miss Jones?, Shertzing Along, Body and Soul, Black Coffee, Pier Pressure, Nocturnal Traces, Ain't Misbehavin', How Do You Keep the Music Playing, Freddie's Inferno
Personnel: Marcus Printup: Trumpet; Kevin Bales: Piano, Ricky Ravelo: Bass; Woody Williams: Drums.