Boston-based trumpeter Trent Austin has chosen a series of duo performances for his second album, hence the title Two-Toned, with four pianists and one guitarist. Austin purposely chose this format, inasmuch as it is most intimate of jazz ensembles. Certainly duos like this have been accomplished before. Oscar Peterson's series of duet recordings on Pablo during the the 1970s with Harry Sweets Edison, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Faddis and Clark Terry come to mind. In fact, Austin considers Clark Terry to be his mentor. I also wouldn't be surprised to find duet albums from cornetist Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins in their Decca period.
Trent Austin has selected a program of mostly standards from the Great American Songbook, along with three originals, a lesser-known Charlie Parker compostion and Clark Terry and Chick Corea's "Armando's Rhumba." The only one of his partners with any jazz fame is veteran pianist Benny Green (who has recorded a lot of duos with guitarist Russell Malone). I especially enjoyed the interplay between these two musicians on the opening "Lullaby of the Leaves." Austin returns after his melody statement, reaches high and then low with some growls, while Green keeps pace and then some. On their second pairing, for "I'm Confesin' That I Love You," Austin does the venerable standard credit with a mid-tempo reading, while Green contributes a fine bluesy solo.
Benny Green was the only player Trent Austin had not played with before. I was most impressed with Austin's pairing with Ryan Parker, whose work on the title tune (an Austin original) and then Clark Terry's "Jones" matches the trumpeter's bluesy take. As a change of pace, guitarist Jon Wheatley matches Austin's swinging version of "I'm Old Fashioned."
All in all, Trent Austin has chosen a demanding format to showcase his talent and certainly comes out a winner with this result!
Track Listing: Lullaby of the Leaves; I
Personnel: Trent Austin: trumpet, cornet, valve trombone; in duet with Benny Green (1,6), Paul Odeh
(3,6), Ryan Parker (4,9), Thomas Snow (5,10): piano; Jon Wheatley: guitar (2,7).