Jazz CD Reviews

Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott – East-West Trumpet Summit – Origin

A meeting of East and West.

Published on June 21, 2010

Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott – East-West Trumpet Summit – Origin

Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott – East-West Trumpet Summit – Origin 82561, 47:47 ****:

(Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott, trumpets; Travis Shook, piano; Jeff Johnson, bass; Matt Jorgensen, drums)

Trumpet blow-offs, like harmonica cutting sessions, many times are unsuccessful as they can be exercises in ego inflation. Dating back to the 1950s there has been an impression that when East coast players meet their Western counterparts, the East coast horn players blow hot and the Left coast brass players blow in a cooler vein. It’s kind of like comparing Chet Baker to Roy Eldridge. As traveling between the coasts became much more common these divisions became blurred so much so that since the 1970s and 80s the East vs. West “rivalry” fell by the wayside.

It is fun, however, when two trumpeters compose the entire horn front line. For fans of trumpeters (count me in) it is a welcome treat to hear an unimpeded brass blend. On East-West Trumpet Summit we get to hear New York based Ray Vega, and Seattle native, Thomas Marriott, play identical trumpets. Ray can be heard on the right channel and Thomas comes at you from the left side in the stereo mix. Rather than a blowing session, it is more a meeting of the minds with mutual respect. Marriott wrote three tracks and Vega has two, with the remainder standards by Horace Silver, Monk and Ellington (a medley), and Cahn and Styne.

“It’s You or No One” is taken at a energetic clip where both trumpeters play with the theme. Travis Shook, on piano, has a sparkling solo, between Thomas and Ray, and drummer Matt Jorgensen drives the beat keeping the octane hot. Horace Silver’s funky “Juicy Lucy” provides Ray and Thomas a great opportunity to blend as one, before they each get to blow their own choruses. Ray’s tone is a bit hotter, while Thomas has a smoother midrange.

“Pelham Gardens” is a tribute to Ray written by Thomas to honor Vega’s Bronx neighborhood. Travis Shook’s solo here is exemplary. Marriott’s homage to the “home” of Origin Records, “Bishop Island”, is a reflective ballad, where the trumpets wax lyrical and bassist Jeff Johnson, gets a prominent solo. Vega’s two compositions follow and while “Only a Season” shows his mellow side (again Johnson‘s solo shines), “It’s a New York Thing” swings hard and has a big band feel.

Another tribute to Vega by Marriott, “Big Brother” closes out the summit on a high note, and it is clear that Marriott has high regard for his mentor. The two met when Vega visited the University of Washington while he was playing with Tito Puente, and struck up a friendship with Marriott, who was a music student. Ray helped Thomas when Marriott first took a bite out of the Big Apple after college.

East-West Summit shows the two to be on more equal footing now and for fans of jazz trumpet, this CD comes highly recommended.

TrackList: It’s You or No One, juicy Lucy, Pelham Gardens, Bishop Island, Only of a Season, It’s a New York Thing, Round Midnight/ In a Sentimental Mood, Big Brother

– Jeff Krow

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