(Thomas Marriott, trumpet and Flugelhorn; Marc Seales, piano and Fender Rhodes; Jeff Johnson, bass; John Bishop, drums; Joe Locke, vibes (tracks 2 & 9); Hadley Caliman, tenor sax (track 8))
Recorded two years after his Origin Records debut Individuation, Marriott is back with his second Origin release, Both Sides of the Fence. What stands out about this release is the song selection, a mixture of three Marriott originals along with an impeccably well chosen six other tunes by such artists as Ellington, Corea, and Hubbard. Recorded in Seattle, with noted local players, with the addition of two special guests – present day Seattle resident Hadley Caliman, and East Coast vibes legend, Joe Locke – Marriott has found a wining combination.He highlights his own compositions and includes enough recognizable classic tunes to draw in a skeptical listener. He has succeeded admirably.
The CD opens with an original Marriott composition, the title track. Tom is on Flugelhorn on this one and Seales has a nice piano solo. So Near, So Far shows off Marriott’s lyrical side and his tone is warm and inviting. Seales again shines on his solo before Marriott takes over center stage before guest Locke has several choruses. As usual Joe’s blend with the piano is spot on. This tune is a highlight of the disc.
The Ninnen has a dark modal feel with the addition of the Fender Rhodes and Marriott’s horn gives the track a Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way feeling. John Bishop on drums also shines, as does Johnson’s bass. Summer Night is more standard fare and Tom is given free rein to solo warmly. Ellington’s lesser known New World A Comin’, with the trumpeter’s muted horn lends sophistication to the session with this ballad.
It’s back to electric piano for Marc Seales on Freddie Hubbard’s Sky Dive, from Freddie’s album with the same title on CTI. Marriott’s version has the Creed Taylor groove down from the early 70s, especially with Seales’ winning Fender Rhodes lines. Jeff Johnson arranged the classic The Breeze and I, and he has a great bass solo at the beginning of the track before Seales and Marriott have their say. The great Hadley Caliman is featured on What the Mirror Said, and it is such a treat to have some Caliman to hear at this later stage of Hadley’s career. He still has the soul of a Dexter Gordon with his muscular tone. (I recently saw Caliman at Tula’s in Seattle, with special guest Julian Priester; it was a special treat to see these two jazz veterans on the same stage.)
Chick Corea’s Tones for Joan’s Bones brings the CD to a fitting conclusion with more warm Flugelhorn from Marriott and another visit from Tom Locke, plus further evidence of Johnson’s bass expertise. Both Sides of the Fence is a classy session and will appeal to most any jazz fan as it provides both new material and great interpretations of standards. Marriott has a bright future and is a trumpeter to keep an eye on.
TrackList: Both Sides of the Fence, So Near, So Far, the Ninnen, Summer Night, New World A Comin’, Sky Dive, The Breeze and I, What the Mirror Said, Tones for Joan’s Bones.
– Jeff Krow