Origin Records may be based half a country away in Seattle, but it has become the
mainstream Chicago jazz label, documenting our scene in recent months with terrific albums by the Deep Blue Organ Trio, Geof Bradfield, Dana Hall and Bobby Broom. A few weeks ago, I reviewed an Origin album by Chicago legend Ira Sullivan and Windy City crony Stu Katz. Yesterday, Origin kept the ball rolling by releasing the impressive debut of Chicago trumpeter Tito Carrillo, Opening Statement.
Carrillo has been building up to this album for years while playing with everyone from Willie Pickens and Paquito d'Rivera to the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble. He composed all but two of the tunes on it and plays with the easy strength of someone who has a dozen albums to his credit.
From the start, Carrillo demonstrates a take charge sensibility, mixing it up with tenor saxophonist Geof Bradfield on the hard-hitting, modal style "Truth Seeker" and making staggered melodic lines dance on "Theophilus" with Bradfield on soprano saxophone. On "3 Colors," an atmospheric tone poem, Carrillo steps out a bit into free jazz. The song, inspired by former Chicagoan Rudresh Mahanthappa, features a ferocious tenor solo by Philip Doyle, who I wasn't familiar with but was really happy to meet.
Carrillo is one of those horn players with a natural bounce to his playing that lends itself to both his Latin and funkified hard bop beats. Most of the songs boast admirably subtle Latin accents, impeccably signed by the great Dana Hall on drums. One sure sign of Carrillo's artistry is how well the tunes go together, adding up to a unified, personal sound. A Chicago sound.