Charlie Porter – S/T – Porter House Press 01 – 64:08 – ****1/2
(Charlie Porter – trumpet, composer, producer; John Nastos – alto sax, soprano sax; David Evans – tenor sax; John Moak – trombone; Majid Khaliq – violin; Christopher Woitach – guitar; David Goldblatt, Greg Goebel, Dan Gaynor, George Colligan – piano;
Jon “Sticky” Lakey, Bill Athens, Dylan Sundstrom, Tim Gilson, Tom Wakeling, Cary Miga, Chuck Israels – bass; Alan Jones, Mel Brown, Michael Raynor, Timothy Rap – drums)
Portland trumpeter, Charlie Porter, whose background includes attending The Julliard School, while being mentored by Wynton Marsalis, has chosen to use the collective jazz talents of 20 Portland area musicians to showcase both his horn skills, as well as his composition and arranging gifts on his first (self produced) CD. Porter’s vision begins as a solo track, and moves forward adding an instrument at a time going from duo all the way up to a sextet, before reversing back in the same manner to a closing solo. It’s a novel approach, letting the listener appreciate the broadening sound stage with Porter’s warm burnished tone being the constant throughout.
Charlie’s tunes (all but “Morning Glory, written by Porter) are a great blend of classical, gypsy jazz, hard bop, and straight ahead jazz arrangements. Opening with “Prologue,” a baroque sounding solo, and ending with an “Epilogue” of a similar nature, Porter shares the stage with the best of the Rose City’s jazz elite, both young and old. Portland icons, drummer Mel Brown, and bassist Chuck Israels, each get one tune to shine, while four pianists, six other bassists, and three drummers, all get exposure.
On “Mel Smiles” Mr. Brown shows off his impeccable brush work in a call and response manner with Porter. “Rondo for Sticky” is a bass trio written in a New Orleans style to give props to Jon Lakey, and the percussive drumming of Alan Jones. Next is the quartet of “New Beginnings,” that goes from a waltz progressing towards a burner. Pianist, David Goldblatt swings mightily.
“A Love Scorned” has a solid horn ensemble blend with solos aplenty. An ostinato provided by the bass and drums provides the foundation for the sextet’s blend of classical and jazz on “Brown Study.” Porter’s trumpet is magisterial, and John Nastos’ saxophone solo makes a major contribution. Moving back down to a quintet, “Messenger” again shows the unsung quality of Portland’s jazz scene.
“Skain Train” has New York based violinist, Majid Khaliq, leading a gypsy type jazz quartet in a swinging arrangement with violin, bass, trumpet, and drums. “Morning Glory” shows off Portland’s new treasure, bassist Chuck Israels, who is noted as one of Bill Evans’ most admired bassists. (He is now settled in Portland and leads a big band of local musicians, some of who play on Porter’s CD.) Guitarist Christopher Woitach is featured on this trio tune.
Pianist George Colligan has also relocated to Portland, where he teaches in the Portland State University jazz studies program. He is paired with Porter on “Anthem,” which is a beautiful jazz chamber music duet. “Epilogue” is a solo closer and once again, Charlie Porter’s vibrant trumpet prowess is displayed.
This is a very special release, significant for its polished arrangements, and Charlie Porter’s generosity in providing national exposure for the Northwest jazz talents that deserve greater acclaim.
Mel Smiles (duo)
Rondo for Sticky (trio)
New Beginnings (quartet)
A Lover Scorned (quintet)
Brown Study (sextet)
Skain Train (quartet)
Links to Charlie Porter’s website, Porter House Press.