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Matt Shulman: So It Goes

A top-drawer trumpeter who also sings like an angel obscured by a storm cloud. Chet Baker? Well, close. Baker comparisons are inevitable, especially since Matt Shulman not only covers “My Funny Valentine,” Baker’s career-long signature, but does so sounding every bit as gauzily detached. Baker’s vocal influence is also evident on the album-opening title track that escalates from wistfully dreamy to gloriously cacophonous. But Shulman, when he chooses to sing, can also sound a lot like Sting, particularly on his urgent “Forgetting/Remembering Yourself” and the chanting, seemingly helium-filled “Zeppelin.”

But it is Shulman the daring horn man who dominates this debut disc, which finds him in the nobly adventurous company of bassist Matt Clohesy and percussionist Jason Wildman. On trumpet, there are occasional echoes of Baker, but the influence of Davis and Maynard Ferguson is far more obvious. It’s not an album for the shy of ear, or traditional of taste. But if you’re willing to climb out on a limb with Shulman, you’ll be rewarded with experimentation of borderless boldness. And between trips to aural outer space, you’ll find solace inside a comparatively restive reading of “It Could Happen to You” and (again invoking the ghost of Baker) a gorgeously windswept treatment of Bach’s “Air for the G String.”

Originally Published