We've been covering Thomas Marriott since his third CD back in 2007. Last June, he showed that he could more than hold his own when matched with Ray Vega in a trumpet fest. He has been featured as a lead sideman on many of his label mate's CDs. His rise as a first choice trumpeter has been steady, almost meteoric.
His latest CD for Origin is Human Spirit
, and it is a joy. Adding a Hammond B-3 to the mix with fellow Northwesterner Gary Versace, is a savvy move as it adds some Hammond "grease" to the Blue Note type feel that Human Spirit
brings to the listener. Marriott has the power and lyricism of a Freddie Hubbard or Lee Morgan, and Versace's organ fills contribute to some heady hard bop.
"You Don't Know What Love Is", is an up-tempo ballad and Versace's fingers fly to keep up with Thomas, as does Matt Jorgensen on drums. Marriott's tone is golden with a pleasing mid-range warmth. "Hiding in Public" brings to mind Miles Davis, on Sketches of Spain, and Mark Taylor's alto contributes to the European flavor of this track. I also almost felt a Middle Eastern "call to worship" vibe here from Taylor. The title track highlights the seamless blend with the trumpet and sax having a strong cohesion. Versace brings a introspective touch on this track as he takes the Hammond in new directions.
Duke Ellington's "Low Key Lightly" written for Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder, lets Marriott blow his flugelhorn with a lovely lyrical bent that is simply gorgeous as each note floats in the air. Versace's solo goes in a similar direction. "Side Walk" gets a bass line vamp with crisp cymbal accompaniment from Jorgensen. Taylor and Marriott exchange phrases in a musical conversation.
"Lisa", written for Thomas' wife, uses echo to express feeling and reminded me of tracks from Miles' In a Silent Way
. Miles is again visited in "The Brown Hornet" from Davis' Filles De Kilimanjaro
, first recorded in 1968. It definitely has an early electric jazz feel, with the Hammond taking the place of the electric piano. Mark Taylor makes some edgy statements that give the most free playing of any track on this CD.
All in all, Human Spirit
covers a lot of ground in fully expressing the "human spirit." It also shows that Marriott is a man for all seasons both as a composer and band leader. Adding a Hammond B-3 organ is just another expression on the journey.