Samson Trinh: Very Strange Night

Jim Santella By

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This collection of music school composition projects says a lot about the student and his university. When finishing his BM in Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Samson Trinh held a CD release party at his senior recital. He hired several musicians (listed below) and made this eclectic recording, which features compositions and arrangements from his senior year. While the recording is only 35 minutes long, it covers a wide range of musical styles, from big band and swing to Broadway, bebop, country & western, classical, vocal ballads, blues and even jazz's avant-garde. While creative minds produce interesting projects, Trinh's Very Strange Night does more to explore jazz history than showcase stellar musicianship.

Three big band numbers stand out for their superb arrangements and cohesive swell. Trinh emphasizes the heavy baritone saxophone for a solid foundation and provides plenty of section interplay in between. His balance gives each band member a chance to participate equally. Soloists on "Time After Time include alto saxophonist Mike Cemprola, trumpeter Rex Richardson and pianist Adrian Duke. They're a bit stately and stiff, but they produce the desired results: they provide a window into the big band scene just prior to World War II.

The album's title track, providing a look back at 1960s-era television studio work, features the big band with heartfelt solo spots from trombonist Pete Anderson, flutist Mike Cemprola and trumpeter Taylor Barnett. The other number by Trinh's big band, "Signs Are Full of Jive, features singer/pianist Adrian Duke in a gentle but swinging romp.

Creative outflows include "I Can't Believe I'm Addicted to the O.C. and "I Tried to Talk to Her, But She Thought I Was Too Weird, which both pursue higher improvisational goals. The latter, a pronounced journey toward jazz's leading edge, features tenor saxophonist J.C. Kuhl, bassist Jonathan Cannon and drummer Brian Jones, along with Daniel Clarke at the Wurlitzer. Together, they move forcefully in the direction that jazz is inclined to pursue. It's all about creativity, adventure and craftsmanship with feeling—along with the necessary tools to make the music sound good.

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.

Title: Very Strange Night | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Giggity Records


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