It seems that the spirit of Miles Davis ca. 1967 is alive and well in the form of trumpeter Thomas Marriott's new CD, [ Constraints & Liberations
]. That's not a bad thing in my book for curiously, although Miles has obviously been a huge influence in Jazz, the work he did with his late quintet in the few years just prior to his groundbreaking Bitches Brew recording has not been followed up as much as I imagined it would or should have been. Similarly, I can only think of a few players, Termasa Hino, Mark Isham, and Eddie Henderson and now Marriott himself whose sound and style immediately identify them as being direct musical descendants of Miles' playing from this period. Although obviously one does not want to cop anyone else's bag but all these gentlemen, including Marriott, have gone beyond their initial inspiration and crafted creative niches of their own, to their credit. The very first track sounds like an outtake from The Sorcerer, one of my favorites. But right after the head, changes are abandoned and the band goes at it a la Ornette; just one instance where Marriott goes beyond his influences to forge his own path. The other pieces also continue and extend this successful paradigm of building on and going beyond influences: "Up From Under," a beautiful lyrical theme situated above a single chord; "Constraints," a darkly hued mid-tempo swinging vehicle which gets the excellent band into gear; "Waking Dream," an impressionistic theme stated with muted trumpet and bass; "Early Riser," a straight eighth note piece that again conjures up Miles and Shorter's harmonic and melodic language from the quintet years; "Clues" is another effectively dark anthem that induces lyrical moodiness from the musicians and "Treadstone," which features a haunting melody played beautifully by the unison voices of Marriott and Teuber. Mention must be made of the band, which is uniformly impressive. In particular, I appreciate the contribution of pianist Versace (dig his solo entrance on "Diagram"!) but Johnson and Bishop aren't exactly lightweights either and deserve their own shout-out. This is a fine CD and I recommend it to you.