You don't have to be signed to Blue Note to embrace a Blue Note type of sound. Take Darren Barrett, for example. Deelings, the trumpeter's second album as a leader, was recorded for the Cincinnati-based J Curve label, not Blue Note. But it is impossible to listen to this post-bop/hard bop CD without thinking of the Blue Note sound of the late '50s and '60s. The writing has a strong Jazz Messengers influence, and Barrett's brassy, big-toned trumpet playing recalls such Clifford Brown-influenced Blue Note trumpeters as Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan. The strong Blue Note influence isn't all that surprising when you consider that Deelings was produced by Donald Byrd, who also recorded for Blue Note and was, like Hubbard and Morgan, a Jazz Messenger with a Brown-minded sound. Deelings is hardly groundbreaking, but while Barrett isn't the most original player in the world, the "Young Lion" deserves credit for playing as soulfully as he does. Obviously, the recordings of Brown, Hubbard, and Morgan have made him realize that feeling should be as important to an improviser as technique. Barrett also deserves credit for doing most of the writing himself; the only overdone standards that he embraces on this CD are "I'm Glad There Is You" and "There Will Never Be Another You." The latter has been heard countless times as a high-speed barnburner, but Barrett approaches it as a ballad. Deelings isn't a masterpiece, but it's an enjoyable, if derivative, example of how influential the classic Blue Note sound continues to be.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson