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Marcus Printup: Nocturnal Traces

Jim Santella By

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Marcus Printup’s quartet has been together for over four years; the friendships are even older than that. As with most established smaller ensembles, the trumpeter’s is cohesive and its members share ideas consistently. The comprehensive liner notes by Dr. Herb Wong offer insights toward the motivation behind this music; much more information can be found at http://www.bluenote.com/. Printup’s tone is thin and pure; his technique is down-to-earth; accuracy is consistently professional, and the trumpeter’s expressive mannerisms are clearly from the heart.

Half the tracks are Printup’s compositions. Through his pen and through his leadership, the trumpeter creates modern mainstream tension. It’s the kind of harmonic tension that grew out of hard bop and continues to evolve. The trumpeter and pianist use a lot of notes to get their ideas across; there isn’t much space allowed. However, dynamic contrasts of loud and soft volume, coupled with a confident rhythmic swagger, results in a well-rounded product. The familiar melody of "Black Coffee" appeals to one’s tastes much like the refreshment does when it’s needed. Printup’s characterization of the powerful lyrics is brought about by inflecting his horn’s sound to include a throaty moan and wail. The ballad sense of "Body & Soul" is related through the trumpeter’s overt expression and a singing style that includes woeful half-valve slides and minor flights of embellishment. The quartet swings "Have You Met Miss Jones?" with a loose feeling of self-confidence and a purposeful lowering of the volume. Bales and Ravelo turn out appropriate solo statements that seem to whisper comments about the song’s subject into the ear of a nearby friend. Much like the confident air found in trad jazz (in general), the quartet delivers "Ain’t Misbehavin’ " with a slow but steady approach. Printup and his ensemble offer variety on this stellar session; all of it good. Highly Recommended.


Title: Nocturnal Traces | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Dreyfus Jazz


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