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12/10/10

Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott
East-West Trumpet Summit
Origin Records

This Ray Vega/Thomas Marriott dual trumpet release emphasizes collective interaction, cohesive ensemble presentation and the spirit of teamwork embodied in the title, though there are also plenty of times during the eight songs where differences in style and approach are evident despite the fact they're playing identical trumpets. Both men are superb melodic interpreters, and the session's program choices, which include renditions of Horace Silver's "Juicy Lucy," the fluid, gorgeously played opening tune "It's You Or No One" and a Monk/Ellington medly "Round Midnight/In A Sentimental Tune," prove ideal for each trumpeter's upper register flurries, dips and octave leaps. Even the rhythm section mixes recruits from different sections, with New York pianist Travis Shook joining forces with Seattle bassist and drummer Jeff Johnson and Matt Jorgensen.

The twin trumpeters demonstrate more signature stylistic tendencies on their own tunes, whether it's Vega's swoops, excellent mid-register lines and bright sound Vega on his "It's A New York Thing" and "Only Of A Season" or Marriott's declarative phrasing, attacking approach and extensive range on "Pelham Gardens" and "Bishop Island." As the primary non-brass soloist, Shook is elegant on the ballads and explosive on the uptempo tunes, while Johnson (at his best on "It's You Or No One") and Jorgenson (uniformly steady and tight) make a fine rhythm section.

Rather than an instrumental battle or cutting contest, "East-West Trumpet Summit" underlines the artistry that results when great musicians from diverse backgrounds find common ground rather than seek to establish a pecking order or spotlight rivalries.

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