Tom Marriott Blindfolded

Ryan Burns By

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Trumpeter Thomas Marriott has established himself as one of the most exciting, sought after instrumentalists coast-to-coast over the past decade. His musicianship and creativity have gained him numerous awards and recognition throughout the music world. A Seattle native, Thomas first broke out onto the scene with The Marriott Brothers Quintet's 1997 CD release Open Season, co-lead by brother/trombonist Dave Marriott. The album won Seattle jazz radio KPLU's top pick for that year. Earshot Jazz Magazine readers voted the quintet the Best Emerging Group of 1997, an award Thomas won individually the following year. Having emerged rather rapidly, in 1999 The Marriott Brothers Quintet won another Earshot award for Best Northwest Acoustic Band of 1999. Also in 1999, Thomas was the winner of the prestigious Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Competition sponsored by the International Trumpet Guild and the Herb Albert foundation.

In 2000, Thomas joined Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band, and soon after moved to New York City. After completing three world tours with the band, Thomas was an active part of the New York music scene, and could be heard regularly with such luminaries as vibraphonist Joe Locke, The Tito Puente Orchestra, Richie Cole, The Bryan Lynch Big Band, The Chico O'Farrell Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Eric Reed; also appearing on recording projects by Rosemary Clooney, The Matt Catingub Band, Bob Berg and others. During his stay in New York, Thomas also had the opportunity to collaborate with the Ground Floor Dance Company in two original works.

Returning to the Northwest in June of 2004, Thomas has once again made Seattle his home. He is an active part of the Seattle music scene, both as a sideman and a leader. His upcoming album Individuation will be released in January of 2005, and features musicians from both Seattle and New York. Thomas Marriott endorses and plays the Vintage One Trumpet by C.G. Conn exclusively.

Artist: Art Blakey Quintet
Track: "Once in a While"
Recording: A Night at Birdland, Volume 1 (Blue Note 1954)
Personnel: Clifford Brown, trumpet; Horace Silver, piano; Curly Russell, bass; Art Blakey, drums
Composer: B. Green, M. Edwards

Tom Marriott: I know what this is. This is Art Blakey right, and Clifford Brown? This is the best Clifford Brown in my opinion.

All About Jazz: Really?

TM: What's the tune? "Once in a While," yeah.

AAJ: You like this better than the Clifford Brown/Max Roach stuff?

TM: I like it better. Man, it's a secret but I don't like Max Roach's drumming very much. Just something about his swing feel that like, doesn't rest with me right. His improvising on drum set I like, but these particular records' I mean Clifford sounds great on those (Max Roach) records, but to me his real playing is on these records, man. To me, these are the best Clifford Brown examples. Maybe it's just the rhythm section I think because like, Horace'Is it Horace Silver and Art Blakey? And Lou Donaldson? Yeah, this shit's bad, man.

AAJ: And Curly Russell.

TM: Yeah, Curly Russell. It's like two adjectives.

AAJ: Maybe Clifford's time lays in there better with Art, is that what you mean?

TM: For one, he seems to blow longer solos on these records too, because it's live.

AAJ: Have you ever transcribed his solos?

TM: Yeah. I transcribed this when I was in high school, actually. Not all of it, but a good portion of it. I used to play this song a lot. I used to be really into Clifford a lot, because in terms of like the "bebop" trumpet players man, he's such a kind of perfect package of just being able to play the trumpet ridiculously well. I mean there were really few guys ever to play the trumpet that well. But, there's something about it that I just sort of stopped really being into it because it's so nice all the time you know? It's so pleasant all the time and sometimes you are in the mood for something with a little more attitude to it. But that was my thing for a long time man; Clifford, that was what I was trying to do. I'd still like to be able to play the trumpet that well. I've heard some tapes of him practicing. He was practicing playing Cherokee just by himself with a metronome, and it's so unbelievable. He's nailing every change ' but you know he plays lots and lots of notes, and really keeps track of the time all the time, and there's never you know, like interplay with the rhythm section and stuff at all, you know. That's the shit. Art Blakey. Man that would've been so cool to have seen. 5 Stars.

Artist: Jerry Gonzalez and The Fort Apache Band
Track: "Bebop"
Recording: The River Is Deep (1982, Enja)
Personnel: Jerry Gonzalez, trumpet; Steve Turre, trombone; Andy Gonzalez, bass; many others'
Composer: Dizzy Gillespie

TM: Turn it up. Turn it up. Wooh! Trombone player's burnin'! (Trumpet soloing) Is this Freddie (Hubbard)?

AAJ: No.

TM: Yeah. This guy's like all lower register, man. What a weird ensemble. It's like all this slide, percussion and guitar. When you have all the Latin percussion like that, there's never any dynamics usually. I play a lot of Latin gigs and they're like "Here, play a solo." If you don't play the upper register you can't really hear yourself, which is a drag 'cause you know, you gotta work. (Trombone soloing) This cat is burning, man! It's like the one thing I hate saying, the trombone player's burning. (Laughs) Sounds good, though. Is it Steve Turre?

AAJ: Yeah. It's the trumpet player's group, though.

TM: Yeah. It could be anybody. Is it Jerry Gonzales?

AAJ: Yeah.

TM: Man, he barely even played. I played with his brother Andy a couple of times. Andy's cool. This is a live record, huh?

AAJ: The River Is Deep.

TM: This is a great band, man. Jerry's like one of the baddest cats' I heard him once man, and I was like "That's the best trumpet playing I've ever heard!" you know? That record Obatala '? That's a great record. You should check that out.

AAJ: Do they do Dizzy justice?

TM: You know I never heard a recording of Dizzy playing this tune. Dizzy was bad. No one has really ever played that way. Guys don't really have the chops for it, because of what's required to play that way. You have to play a certain kind of set up of equipment to be able to play in that register like that, and you sacrifice sort of the mid-level sound... And Dizzy doesn't really attack; his articulation isn't like the other guys because there's a lot less of it, and people don't want to play that way for whatever reason. You know, like Clifford played a lot of eighth notes and really keeps track of the time and is really kind of on downbeats. Dizzy is a lot more angular and over the bar line. His phrases are much more irregular, which makes it hipper in a certain way. He's not always starting and stopping in even symmetrical places. It's really hip, man.

AAJ: He seemed to have a concept of how the whole group should sound, you know?

TM: That's what I hear. Apparently he was a really good pianist. That probably had a lot to do with it. Some of Dizzy's records have a band sound for sure but they don't sound really good to me. My dad had this record, An Electrifying Evening with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, on Verve and it's a live record. I think there's only like 4 or 5 songs on it, but the record was warped. My dad had a jazz radio program for years and years and he had all these jazz records. When my mother and father first got together, my mother would clean up my father's apartment. She put all these records against the baseboard heater and they warped. Some of them he threw away, and some of them he kept, 'cause only the outside tracks would work. The ones close to the sticker you could still listen to, and that was one of them. The only one's that worked were "The Mooch" on one side and "Salt Peanuts" on the other, and that's the first record I ever heard. It came out on CD a couple of years ago, and I bought it and I said "Here's that record, I can hear the whole thing." I put it on and I was like "This record's not very good." But when I first heard it, it really made me want to play trumpet, because like his break on "Salt Peanuts" is really hip. But the rhythm section is kind of not good, and it's kind of sad.

AAJ: It's outdated?

TM: It's not even outdated. Just the bass sound is bad and the comping is everywhere, and the drummer and the bass player are not locked up. But he's got the arrangements, and the stuff that they play is cool. It's like a little big band. His small group bands have all these shout choruses and little outros and intros, they always have arrangements that are cool. 5 stars for the Jerry Gonzales cut and Dizzy.

Artist: Charles Mingus
Track: "Devil Blues"
Recording: Changes One (Atlantic 1975)
Personnel: Jack Walrath, trumpet; George Adams, tenor saxophone, vocal; Don Pullen, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; Dannie Richmond, drums
Composer: Charles Mingus

TM: This has a Mingus sort of quality to it.

AAJ: That's 'cause it's Mingus.

TM: Really, this is a Mingus record? Wow. He sounds really good on this record. Is that him singing? I used to go see the Mingus Big Band; they'd have either John Stubblefield or Frank Lacy sing. Is that Jack Walrath (on trumpet)?

AAJ: Yeah.

TM: Man, Jack Walrath. I think all those people like Ingrid Jensen and certain other players, like Kenny Wheeler, they say, is a really big influence or whatever, but to me that's what Jack Walrath plays like, is like a really hip (Kenny Wheeler). I shouldn't say that, but that's what I think. It's that spatial sort of way of playing, but a little bit more aggressive, a little dirtier. He would always have these bands in New York that were like a rapper, a turntablist and a jazz rhythm section.

AAJ: He's down with the times.

TM: I guess. Yeah, apparently he's a pretty hip guy. You know that record Masters of Suspense ?

AAJ: It's on Blue Note?

TM: That's the one, with Ronnie Burrage, Carter Jefferson, Kenny Garrett, Steve Turre. It's really hip. The writing is really, really cool. He's a really hip guy. I like his trumpet playing a lot. He was doing the thing that people are doing now before other people started doing it. There's a whole generation of musicians like him that sort of get skipped over, 'cause they were playing like, acoustic jazz music in the 70's, you know? Nobody thinks about them or talks about them anymore, because the 80's came in and people started playing jazz again. Like Carter Jefferson or Eddie Henderson, even Randy Brecker to a certain degree. They all still play really good and no one pays attention to them. It's not like flavor-of-the month Roy Hargrove or whatever, and those guys are good but man, Eddie Henderson and Randy Brecker are the real deal you know? They really play!

AAJ: They've spent some serious time on their craft.

TM: Yeah, man! They're like 50, 60 years old, man, and they're kind of in their prime in a certain regard. Like Jay Thomas is, man. He's like 50-something years old and he's probably playing better now than he ever has, which is cool you know to see a guy who's 50 years old just burning! That's what I'd like to do, you know? I'm not really worried about being good now.

AAJ: Yeah, Dizzy said it takes 30 years to learn what notes to play and another 30 to figure out what not to play.

TM: That's probably so true, man. 5 Stars.

Artist: Joe Lovano
Track: "Sail Away"
Recording: Live at The Village Vanguard (Blue Note 1994)
Personnel: Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone; Tom Harrell, trumpet; Anthony Cox, bass; Billy Hart, drums
Composer: Tom Harrell

TM: Ah, I like this tune. Man, what a cool rhythm section. It's Tom Harrell? I don't know who the bassist and drummer are, but I wanna play with them. Those guys are killer. (Harrell) is so burning. Man, he sounds good. What record is this? I gotta buy this.

AAJ: You're supposed to guess, man!

TM: I don't own a single Tom Harrell record.

AAJ: It's a Joe Lovano record.

TM: Oh yeah. Is this the one with "Birds of Springtime Gone By"?

AAJ: Yeah. Harrell's not on the one side. It's a double CD with two different rhythm sections.

TM: Right, right; with Anthony Cox and Billy Hart. Man, that's killer.

AAJ: Billy Hart has that way of playing time without, you know, forcing it down your throat.

TM: Yeah, I think it's a thing about thinking of the time instead of being like 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, thinking about it as blocks of four bars or just like thinking of it in a bigger way, I think. Like, you ever play with Dean Hodges?

AAJ: No.

TM: He plays like that. It's real open and free sounding for like four bars, but then every couple 4, 8, 16 bars, whatever, he throws you a bone so you know exactly where shit is. It's really cool. It's not restrictive. That's some of the best playing by Harrell I've ever heard. He's such an oddball. I went to one of those trumpet conventions in White Plains in Westchester County and it's all these trumpet players that aren't really trumpet players, they're like accountants or lawyers or doctors. They're all into Maynard Ferguson and Bill Chase and shit like that. They're all trying out mouthpieces and the guys that were playing were like Byron Stripling and Jon Faddis and guys like that. So, one of the other guys that happened to be playing was Tom Harrell, in this really cool venue. So I go in, and this is the International Trumpet Guild Convention, right!—there are a few thousand members, and there are like a few hundred at this thing, but only about 20 people at the venue. Anyway, Tom Harrell had this drumless band. It was just piano, guitar and bass. He was doing Brazilian music, Brazilian tunes, and it was the best music. It was so quiet and nice and pretty and interesting, and nobody was there! Nobody was there. It was like 99% of all trumpet players only wanted to hear high notes, but this is burnin' man!

AAJ: How many stars?

TM: That gets all the stars.

Artist: Hank Mobley
Track: "Hank's Other Bag" and "A Touch of the Blues"
Recording: A Slice of the Top (Blue Note, 1966)
Personnel: Hank Mobley, tenor saxophone; James Spaulding, alto saxophone; Lee Morgan, trumpet; Kiane Zawadi, euphonium; Howard Johnson, tuba; McCoy Tyner, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Billy Higgins, drums
Composer: Hank Mobley

TM: You gotta play me something obscure man, I mean really obscure.

AAJ: Is Grachan Monchur obscure?

TM: You mean Grachan Moncur the third?

AAJ: Yeah. (Laughter) OK, well these musicians aren't obscure, but this is one of the more obscure records.

TM: ("Hank's Other Bag" is playing) Is it McCoy Tyner?

AAJ: McCoy's on it, yeah. I wanna make sure there's a trumpet solo, so let me change the track. (A Touch of the Blues playing)

TM: It's Tuba?

AAJ: Tuba.

TM: It's loud too, you know! It's really present. Is that George Coleman on saxophone?

AAJ: No.

TM: Is that Lee Morgan?

AAJ: Yeah.

TM: Is it Art Blakey?

AAJ: Actually it's kind of not like him, but it's Billy Higgins.

TM: Really? I wouldn't have got that.

AAJ: It's this Hank Mobley record.

TM: I wrote Hank Mobley down, but I didn't think that's who it was. Let me see if can guess who the Tuba player is. (Laughter)

AAJ: He never takes a solo.

TM: Of course. There's this Tuba player that has an album on Prestige with Trane playing alto on it. I can't think of who it is. Is this alto player James Spaulding? I'm dying to know what record this is, man.

AAJ: (Handing over the CD cover) Slice of the Top.

TM: Howard Johnson, that's the guy I'm thinking of. And euphonium. It's got tuba and euphonium!

AAJ: Hank Mobley said this was his favorite record he ever did.

TM: Euphonium and tuba, huh?

AAJ: It's kind of a rare one, you know. Maybe it's just fun to have all that shit in there.

TM: Maybe it's 'cause it's got McCoy on it. (Laughter)

AAJ: That would be my favorite record.

TM: Yeah, whatever record of mine has McCoy Tyner on it? That's my favorite record.

AAJ: No shit.

TM: Euphonium. Who would have Euphonium on their record?

AAJ: You want obscure.

TM: It's a great record. 5 stars for everything, man.

Visit Tom Marriott on the web.

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