Spontaneity rules. Seattle-based trumpeter Thomas Marriott had a day off from touring with his quartet, so he decided to go into the studio and record an album: Trumpet Ship. His twelfth outing for Origin Records—all of them reaching for the stars, all of them getting there—this quartet album lines up after his stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous Romance Language (Origin Records, 2018). A tough act to follow. Marriott and his band follow it well, with a sound which is freer, but every bit as compelling as that of its predecessor.
The music consists of five Marriott originals and three covers, including Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are," which opens the set with Orinn Evans' solemn, introspective, tolling-bell piano, shifting into a perky, prickly roll and tumble. Marriott blows in a bit under the two-minute mark, giving the familiar tune a fierce intensity. In the 1950s and 1960s, trumpeter Miles Davis presented a good deal of his music via his two Great Quintets. This ensemble could be tagged Thomas Marriott's Great Quartet, with pianist Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield. The group operates with a focused agitation and intensity, leaning "outside" without quite stepping out the door.
"General Assembly," a Miles Davis/Gil Evans/ Wayne Shorter composition, glows with an unrelenting momentum; and the Marriott-penned "Behind the Beard" explores a drifting ballad groove, Marriott sounding marvelous on the mute. The disk's title tune, written by saxophonist Sonny Simmons, features Marriott burning things up, giving way to a frenetic piano solo from Evans.
"148 Lexington"—the title taken from the address of the office from which Marriott day-jobbed as a process server in the earlier, leaner days of his music career—is possessed of a detached and surreal vibe, a Miles Davis, Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud (Fontana, 1958) atmosphere—mesmerizingly beautiful.
Marriott wrote the closer, "Song For Samuel," for his son, riding out the session with a brassy, straight-ahead, high-velocity high.
Recorded in three hours, the music does indeed have a feeling of freshness and first-take spontaneity. Another excellent album from Seattle's Thomas Marriott.