"The job of a musician is to illustrate the human condition." On his latest album, ace trumpeter Thomas Marriott lays out his musical ethos. Marriott conceived the nine original tunes on Urban Folklore as musical story-telling, evocations of shared human experience.
While knowing the underpinnings behind Marriott's musical concepts may deepen the experience, it's not required to revel in the music itself - vigorous post-bop, executed with nuance, anchored by Marriott's smeary, lush tone and backed by a hard-driving East Coast threesome of Orrin Evans on piano, Donald Edwards on drums and the authoritatively woody presence of bassist Eric Revis. Marriott's bandmates play with the conviction and rapport of a working trio, and the vibe is that of a cohesive quartet, rather than the sidemen/leader dynamic found on many jazz sessions.
The music is strong throughout, but I'm partial to the second half of the disc: The cinematic, funky mood of "Locked Up," the loosely angular playfulness invoking Monk and Dolphy on "Living on the Minimum," and the bossa-tinged R&B groover "Washington Generals," showcasing expansive and exploratory work from Marriott and Evans, as well as some welcome solo space for Edwards.
While perhaps not as brazenly exploratory as some of his superb past work (check out Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson), Urban Folklore is not only a burning modern jazz album but another solid step towards consolidating Marriott's status as one of Seattle's most reliably versatile and creative musicians.