Tony Guerrero, trumpet – Blue Room – Charleston Square Recordings CSR-419, 64:58 ****:
Hitting the right balance between traditional and original is hard to accomplish. If it’s too close to the original material, you come off sounding like you’re just imitating the real performance instead of creating something new and fresh. On the other hand, if you’re too far away from the original performances, some people will claim that you are not being respectful of the originals and are too different. In “Blue Room,” Tony Guerrero manages to hit the right balance. The arrangements are fresh and energetic and Gerrero’s performance references players from the past while instilling his own take on things. He maintains an easy-going virtuosity on the trumpet that completely won me over—tasteful and engaging.
Several classic are here, like “It’s Only Paper Moon,” “Body and Soul,” and “Over the Rainbow.” If there are any songs that are hard to bring something new to, it would be these tunes, but Guerrero does just that. They’re great fun to listen to. For instance, “Just a Few” features a dynamic big band arrangement and is a blast. Since this CD relies on so many classic tunes, it’s hard to walk away feeling like you’ve heard something completely new—there’s that criticism again—but you do come away feeling like you’ve just been visiting old friends that despite their advanced age are doing just fine. They’re still spry and full of life, and you feel better for the visit. And that’s what this recording does for the listener; it makes you feel good again. And that’s not a small thing. Recommended.
TrackList: It’s Only a Paper Moon; Just a Few; Black Orpheus; Carumba; Body & Soul; Blue Room; Dizzy Does It; My Secret Love; Flugel Bugle Blues; Over the Rainbow; Just Squeeze Me; Candy; My Romance
— Hermon Joyner