Ron Horton featuring Antonio Zambrini: It’s a Gadget World…

A formidable player on the NYC jazz scene, Ron Horton has gained tremendous respect as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger, praised for his tonal clarity and precise lines on the trumpet and flugelhorn. Although he’s been at work since the early 1980s, he first appeared as a leader in 1999 on Omnitone with Genius Envy, an impressive debut that marked the arrival of a bold new bandleader. Two releases on Fresh Sound New Talent followed (Subtextures in 2003 and Everything in a Dream in 2006) and in 2009, Horton’s fourth recording as a leader appeared on Abeat Records. The culmination of several concerts Horton played in Italy in 2005 and 2006 with Italian composer/pianist Antonio Zambrini, It’s a Gadget World was recorded in New York in late 2006 and features the pianist, bassist/composer Ben Allison and drummer Tony Moreno.

Performing compositions by Horton, Zambrini, Paul Motian and Andrew Hill, the quartet displays a superb dynamic range and excellent instrumental interplay. The title track opens the disc with a percussive, funky bassline from Allison, Zambrini’s stabbing piano fills, Horton’s three-note theme and Moreno’s rolling drums. When Horton and Zambrini drop out of the mix and Moreno’s slick hi-hat work provides a subtle shade to Allison’s whining, bluesy solo, it’s a feast for the ears. The drifting melody and fluttery trumpet of “Gaia” is exquisitely matched by rippling, playful and contemplative piano work.

Horton and Zambrini’s chemistry is delightful to hear, as the trumpeter’s gentle touch and warm tone blends beautifully with the pianist’s lucid, meticulous strokes on “Waiting for That.” The bandleader’s tender vibrato and wonderful melody on “9 x 9” is doubled by Allison’s bass and rests easily on waves of piano chords and cymbal washes. “Toeing the Line” opens with a slightly ominous feel but shifts with ease into a gently swinging, bluesy number with brushed drums and Allison bending, flecking and snapping the strings of his bass.

With playing that’s cool, confident and calculated – but also edgy, spirited and full of emotional depth, Horton has crafted an exceptional record that despite its title showcases that an acoustic jazz quartet can still make waves in a world dominated by digital devices.