In the latest edition of his "Some Of My Best Friends Are..." series, Ray Brown honors the trumpet players as they honor him. Having already musically expressed his friendship with singers, pianists and saxophonists, Brown's next group of honorees will include...trombonists? Drummers? Guitarists?
The interesting aspect of Some Of My Best Friends Are...The Trumpet Players is the influence of Dizzy Gillespie. An inspiration to Brown, who first received recognition in Dizzy's group, as well as to jazz trumpeters everywhere, Dizzy's spirit infuses especially the Nicholas Payton, Jon Faddis and Roy Hargrove tracks.
Deeply indebted to Dizzy for spiritual as well as technical guidance, Faddis' work on "Original Jones" is the most obviously referential. As a result, it also is the most thrilling trumpet work, commanding the instrument's extreme upper register and negotiating intervallic leaps with ease. James Morrison, on the other hand, concentrates on a rounder tone that expresses the melodic intent of the tunes, particularly Brown's composition, "When You Go." Roy Hargrove introduces Some Of My Best Friends Are...The Trumpet Players with a confident bop sensibility on "Our Delight," combining a concise voice and clarity of thought. Nicholas Payton proves that he is moving more and more away toward explorative work on Joe Henderson's "The Kicker," as he did recently on Steve Wilson's CD. Balancing aggressive work with a ballad, as do all of the other trumpeters on their two tunes apiece, Payton plaintively sings through his horn on "Violets For Your Furs," wavering a slight vibrato on the long tones, buzzing ever-so-perceptively on lower notes to balance the sweetness of his sound in the middle register. Terence Blanchard's ballad turns out to be Tadd Dameron's "Goodbye," the famous Benny Goodman closer, while in contrast Blanchard enlivens "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" at greater than twice the tempo of the famous Dorsey version.
And then there's Clark Terry. Being himself. Trading horns on "Clark's Tune." Creating an inimitable opening chorus, and well as solos, on Brown's "Itty Bitty Blues" with the apparent ease of a 30-year-old, although Terry will be 80 years young in two more months.
Once again, Ray Brown has assembled a stellar trio. Geoff Keezer remains within the groove of the album, although his recent Zero One CD proves that he can be explorative and unconventional when he leaves the accompanist's role. And drummer Karriem Riggins propels the group with colors and drive without overpowering, as he does to animate Faddis' work on "Original Jones."
Then there's Ray Brown, sturdy and inspirational, establishing the mournful languor of "Bag's Groove" in tribute to Brown's and Faddis' friend, Milt Jackson. Conversing with Faddis, Brown responds to Faddis' groove with elaboration and eloquence.
While it seems that Ray Brown makes friends wherever he goes, as his "Friends" albums prove, his circle of friends has widened to encompass his listeners, who no doubt will respond with affection to Some Of My Best Friends Are...The Trumpet Players , yet another estimable album in Brown's estimable series.
Our Delight, Bag's Groove, I Thought About You, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You, Violets For Your Furs, Itty Bitty Blues, Stairway To The Stars, Original Jones, When You Go, The Kicker, Clark's Tune, Goodbye
Ray Brown, bass; Geoff Keezer, piano; Karriem Riggins, drums; Terence Blanchard, Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, James Morrison, Nicholas Payton, Clark Terry, trumpet
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.