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The Stamm/Soph Project: Live at Birdland NYC

Although the disc credits leadership to both Marvin Stamm (trumpet) and Ed Soph (drums), the opening stage announcement introduces the “Marvin Stamm Quartet.” Maybe that’s why Soph sounds so aggressive in his opening solo during track two, “Samba du Nancy.”

Stamm plays trumpet and flugelhorn with a warm tone that resides in a midrange dynamic level most of the time. This is not to say that a live performance should always include some show-stopping wails or other cheap audience-pleasing tricks. But at the same time Live at Birdland NYC doesn’t exactly feel like a live recording. It has the polish of a studio recording, and the only indication of the concert setting comes from the distant applause.

The S/S Project isn’t lacking in cohesion. With Rufus Reid (bass) and Bill Mays (piano) filling out the rhythm section, and guitarist John Abercrombie appearing on half the album, they work well as a unit. The band simply keeps everything at a low level when they could have benefited by taking it up a couple notches.

Originally Published