Roy Campbell, Jr.

New Kingdom

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Roy Campbell was a late bloomer when it came to recording; the New York trumpeter was 39 when, in 1991, he recorded his first Delmark session as a leader, New Kingdom. The title refers to what Campbell saw as a "new kingdom" of jazz musicians -- improvisers who have one foot in "the tradition" (meaning bop, cool, swing, Dixieland, or post-bop) and the other in the avant-garde. Campbell himself certainly fits that description; with influences ranging from Lester Bowie to Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little, he is as comfortable with outside playing as he is with "the tradition." And the flexible New Yorker shows listeners both sides of himself on this very promising CD. Campbell gets into some dissonant avant-garde playing on abstract pieces like "For C.T." and "Frankenstein & Igor," but he favors a hard-swinging post-bop approach on the optimistic "Thanks to the Creator," the haunting ballad "Mariescia," and the funky "I Remember Lee" (which was written for trumpet icon Lee Morgan, another one of Campbell's influences, and isn't unlike something Morgan would have recorded for Blue Note in the 1960s). On the avant-garde "Frankenstein & Igor," Campbell manages to acknowledge different jazz eras at the same time -- Lester Bowie's influence is strong here, but he also employs the sort of techniques that trumpet heavyweights like Bubber Miley and Red Allen were known for in the 1920s and 1930s. Superb from start to finish, New Kingdom is Campbell's most essential album.

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