East-West Trumpet Summit
is a rollicking showcase for longtime friends Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott. Vega, a New York native and the elder of the two, has served for many years as a mentor to Seattle's Marriott. The two first met when Marriott was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Vega was in town touring with the late Tito Puente. Friends ever since, the two trumpeters share an affinity for hard-blowing, grounded-in-bebop jazz. New York pianist Travis Shook and the Seattle rhythm team of bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Matt Jorgensen round out this exceptional set of standards and original compositions.
A whirling rendition of "It's You or No One," featuring solo turns by the entire cast, gets the disc off to a feverish start. A faithful-to-the-original take on Horace Silver's medium bouncer "Juicy Lucy" swings along nicely, with Vega paying homage to the spirit of Blue Mitchell. Two Marriott originals follow: the rocket-propelled "Pelham Gardens," delivering an inspired back and forth between the two leaders; and "Bishop Island," a free-flowing waltz with a matter-of-fact melody and lyrical turn by Johnson.
Vega contributes as a composer as well, with two strong pieces. The pensive "Only of a Season" and the energetic modal workout "It's a New York Thing" are both disc highlights, the latter a vehicle for frenetic displays from Shook and Jorgensen. Following a straightforward ballad medley of "Round Midnight" and "In a Sentimental Mood," featuring Vega and Marriott respectively, the disc winds down with "Big Brother," Marriott's Latin-tinged tribute to Vega.
With evident camaraderie, East-West Trumpet Summit
is a joyful celebration of friendship and music from two heavyweights of jazz trumpet.