Trumpet players have a well-deserved reputation for machismo. Put two jazz trumpeters in the same studio at the same time and the testosterone count is sure to jump. In the case of veteran Ray Vega and relative newcomer Thomas Marriott, however, the emphasis of this warm-blooded session is on mutual respect, not one-upmanship, as they partner in a "summit" format that has been employed over the decades by some of jazzdom's greatest horn men.
New Yorker Vega has almost three decades of experience under his belt, having come up through the ranks of stellar Latin jazz bands led by Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente on his way to becoming a highly regarded improviser who's equally at home in a wide range of jazz and Latin idioms. Seattleite Marriott, who first heard Vega while a still a university student, has steadily built a national reputation through over a decade of gigging with the likes of Maynard Ferguson and Eddie Palmieri.
East-West Trumpet Summit
opens with a tantalizing, up-tempo take on the standard "It's You Or No One." The two trumpeters trade eight-bar phrases behind the hard-driving rhythm section of pianist Travis Shook, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Matt Jorgensen before branching out. Marriott's extended solo emphasizes his deep, confidant tone and liquid phrasing while Vega struts his penchant for upper register forays and an edgy attack. The two artists' compositional talents are also on display; Marriott contributes three original works, including "Bishop Island," a winsome jazz waltz, and "Big Brother," which recalls Horace Silver's 1970s fusion-leaning work with Randy Brecker, while Vega's ace-in-the-hole is "It's A New York Thing," another Silver-shaded tune with a bristling, boppish attitude. Throughout the eight track affair, the rhythm section's many talents vie for attention; indeed, pianist Shook steals the spotlight on more than one occasion.
On a medley of ballads, Vega is showcased on "Round Midnight," demonstrating a wide range of stylistic influences and technical skills that reflect the influences of trumpet greats of an earlier era, while Marriott tackles "In A Sentimental Mood" in a confident, straightforward manner that attests to his now well-established artistic maturity.