Samson Trinh is a composer/arranger/orchestrator / bandleader/musical director/producer/saxophonist with degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the Manhattan School of Music (where he studied composition with pianist Mike Abene). He was the 2005 winner of the Richmond Jazz Society's Joe Kennedy Jr. Scholarship and has composed for and performed with such luminaries as Al Jarreau, Mulgrew Miller, Nellie McKay, Desiree Roots and others. He's the founder/director of the seventeen-piece Upper East Side Big Band and was co-owner and booking manager from 2003-05 of the Upper East Side Lounge in Richmond, Virginia. And he's only 23 years old. No wonder he's called Samson.
The one thing Trinh hasn't learned (but probably will) is that one should always include more than 35 minutes of music on a CD if he wishes to earn a complimentary review. Be that is it may, the music that is presented is certainly interesting, even though its jazz components are often peripheral. Trinh wrote the music and lyrics for every number save the standard "Time After Time, which he orchestrated for the Upper East Side ensemble. The vocalstwo by Terri Murphy, one each by Adrian Duke and Jackie Frostare no better than ordinary, with a country/Hawaiian veneer on Frost's "Thank Goodness and nice work at the Hammond B-3 by Duke on "Signs Are Full of Jive. The lyrics are printed in the booklet, but that's not much help, as they are by and large inscrutable.
Trumpeter Rex Richardson, one of Chicago's finest, and pianist Laura Candler-White are paired on the curious "Piece for Trumpet and Piano, which runs for all of 25 seconds. The Upper East Side band is also featured on "Very Strange Night (with Richardson on trumpet?) and "Jive, the Lounge Union Orchestra (backing Murphy's vocal) on "To You, Near You, With You.
In the end, it's hard to know what to make of this "very strange mixture. Trinh is obviously an able musician, but one who seems not to have found an explicit point of view. There are some pleasant moments in this Strange Night, but not enough to assuage the listener until daybreak. And one mustn't overlook the album's modest 35 minute playing time.
Track Listing: Intro: Drop the Needle; To You, Near You, With You; I Can
Personnel: Samson Trinh: piano, conductor; Eve Debordenave: flute; Adrian Sandi, Adam Butalwicz: clarinet; Bruce Hammel: bassoon; Mike Cemprola: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute; David Hood: alto saxophone; J.C. Kuhl, Richard Wray, Jason Arce: tenor saxophone; Emily Avesian, Bruce Woodson: baritone saxophone; Bob Miller, Rex Richardson, Taylor Barnett, Mark Ingraham, Charles Gregory, Matt Wittig: trumpet; Pete Anderson, Reggie Pace, Toby Whitaker: trombone; Stefan Demetriadis, Reggie Chapman: bass trombone; Stephanie Fairbairn: tuba; Scott Burton: guitar; Charles Arthur: lap steel guitar; Malcolm Pulley: mandolin; Skip Gailes, Laura Candler-White, Daniel Clarke: piano; Jonathan Cannon, Rusty Farmer: bass; Brian Jones: drums; Mike Boyd: xylophone, chimes; Ben Anderson: washboard; Aaron Thompson: timpani, bells, drums; Molly Berg: whistling; Joe Mager: finger snaps; Susanna Klein, Stacy Markowitz: violin; Molly Sharp: viola; Neal Cary: cello; Adrian Duke: vocals, piano, organ; Jackie Frost, Terri Murphy: vocals.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!