Ray Vega / Thomas Marriott

East-West Trumpet Summit

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Working the two coasts of jazz theory together, but using the Northwest as representative of modern West Coast jazz rather than the L.A. area, trumpeters Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott combine their formidable powers for good in a massive set. The two trumpeters have played together over the years, and have become stalwarts of the local scenes in their respective cities (Marriott winning numerous awards and recording numerous exceptional albums in Seattle, Vega in New York). Here, they trade riffs and solos, follow paired melodic lines, and explore both energetic urban forms and more pastoral compositions. The album opens with Sammy Cahn's "It's You or No One," which makes a good first showing of the two styles and also introduces pianist Travis Shook and a hidden propensity to invoke Bud Powell as he courses through a massive solo. Horace Silver's "Juicy Lucy" uses the trumpets in tandem in a relaxed form reminiscent of some of the Dizzy Gillespie/Sonny Stitt sessions. A couple of compositions from Marriott show off both urban energy (in a musical ode to New York in "Pelham Gardens") and contemplative balladry (in a musical ode to Seattle's Lake Washington in "Bishop Island"). Both provide excellent showcases of the trumpets, and Jeff Johnson's bass solo in "Bishop Island" additionally shows off some excellence. Vega's compositions take the opposite approach, building from a more pensive "Only of a Season" to the nearly hyperactive "It's a New York Thing," showing off some blazing horn techniques along the way. A medley of ballads lets both of the players show off their softer side, and the album finishes on Marriott's tribute to Vega. Musical summits rarely turn out as perfectly as one would hope, given the egos and/or deference of players to one another. This one lets both players respect one another, work together, and show off their own styles all at once. And it's all excellent.

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