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