Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Marvin Stamm Quartet : Alone Together

Time flies when you’re spending an hour-plus with an ensemble that has developed the kind of conversational rapport evident on this live CD/DVD recording. Recorded in an intimate, West Coast setting in 2006, trumpeter Stamm’s quartet moves with deceptive ease through a series of imaginatively arranged standards and original tunes. The quartet’s distinctive approach to the album’s title (and opening) track is typical. It takes on an episodic form, bracketed by funk-accented passages, and generously showcases the talents of Stamm, pianist Bill Mays, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ed Soph.

Performing as a unit for over a decade now, the musicians favor expansive, shape-shifting arrangements that are often laced with lyrical, neatly resolved solos. Stamm’s trumpet and flugelhorn add plenty of color and contrasts, and Mays, who sometimes reaches for the keyboard strings to add muffled tones or harp-like flourishes, is in particularly expressive form. He’s also engagingly lighthearted at times, especially on “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads,” where he alludes to “Surrey With the Fringe On Top” in mid-improvisation. Reid’s melodic touch and Soph’s delightful brushwork are also amply featured during a performance that blends romantic ballads (“Invitation”) with Brazilian themes (Mays’ breezy “Lagrima Agradecida”) and hard-bop excursions (Stamm’s “T’s Butter,” the album’s vibrant coda, is harmonically and humorously linked to “Oleo”). While Stamm and Mays contribute most of the original tunes, Reid’s “Come Out and Play” is enticing fun. The DVD disc production is straight-forward, capturing the performance with crispness and clarity.

Originally Published