Southern California-based Trumpetology is an octet comprised of five sure-handed trumpeters and rhythm. For comparison's sake, think SuperSax for trumpets. Even though leader / arranger Walter Simonsen doesn't transcribe solos by well-known horn players to unsettle his mates, several of his charts demand the same kind of snug digital dexterity employed by SuperSax, and the group focuses in its debut album on jazz standards by Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard and Kenny Dorham. Happily (for the listener), each of these young lions is not only a strong section player but a talented soloist as well. In other words, This Is Trumpetology doesn't lay bare many dull moments (exceptions noted below).
The ensemble tries its hand at funk (and Simonsen at rap) on the tedious finale, Skee-lo's "I Wish." That follows another vocal, by Tim Gill, on George Gershwin's "Summertime." Even though neither one is really bad, those endeavors do serve to press home the reason why Simonsen and Gill are, first and foremost, horn players (keep your day gigs, guys). The group more than compensates for those lapses on the preceding nine numbers, which include Davis' "Milestones" and "So What," Morgan's "Sidewinder," Gillespie's "Anthropology," Brown's "Blues Walk," Hubbard's enchanting waltz, "Skydive," and Dorham's "Prince Albert" (which overlays an agile SuperSax-patterned soli on the changes to Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are"). The session opens up-tempo with the standard "Autumn Leaves" and also includes bassist Sam Jones' high-powered "Unit 7." Simonsen, Gill, James Blackwell and Brian Owen wield their horns on every number, while Brian Mantz and Cameron Summers divvy up the remaining seat. The rhythm section also varies, with Kait Dunton, Cooper Appelt and Jake Reed handling piano, bass and drums on three tracks, Adam Bravo, Alex Frank and Adam Alessi on the others.
Simonsen, an educator who presently serves as assistant director of the Trojan marching band at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has chosen his teammates with care, and it shows. The section slices through his strenuous charts with ease, and the solos are invariably sharp and convincing. A largely impressive debut album, especially for those who admire high-quality trumpet playing, alone or in unison.
Autumn Leaves; Milestones; Sidewinder; Anthropology; Blues Walk; Skydive; Prince Albert; So What; Unit 7; Summertime; I Wish.
Walter Simonsen: trumpet, arranger, vocal (11); James Blackwell: trumpet; Brian Owen: trumpet; Tim Gill: trumpet, vocal (10); Cameron Summers: trumpet (1, 2, 9); Brian Mantz: trumpet (3-8, 10, 11); Kait Dunton: piano; Cooper Appelt: bass; Jake Reed: drums (1, 2, 9); Adam Bravo: piano (1, 2, 9); Alex Frank: bass (1, 2, 9); Adam Alessi: drums (1, 2, 9).
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