1999 Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition award winner Thomas Marriott has worked in Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau band, and with artists like Rosemary Clooney, Ritchie Cole, Charlie Hunter, Kenny Kirkland, Joe Locke, The Chico O’Farrill Orchestra, and The Tito Puente Orchestra, among others. Overall Marriott has appeared on over 100 recordings and his previous release, East-West Trumpet Summit, with Ray Vega, was feature on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”
Marriott is joined with Northwest United States based Hans Teuber on tenor saxophone, New York based pianist Gary Versace who has worked with John Scofield and Maria Schneider among others, bassist Jeff Johnson who has worked with Philly Jo Jones and Jessica Williams, and drummer John Bishop who has worked with Lee Konitz and Bobby McFerrin.
This disc features seven open ended compositions all by Marriott. While they are all roughly in the modern straight-ahead jazz vernacular, they are all composed in a freely spaced harmonic idiom that allows for a great deal of choices and independent harmonic movement not tied to the 1950s and 60s jazz ensembles of Horace Silver or Art Blakey. Some of the compositions are more harmonically open, such as the title track, than others, like “Early Riser.” If there is a defining characteristic that holds this recording together it is the shared sense of freedom Marriott gives his musicians and the autonomy he offers as the ensemble traverses their way through the compositions.
“Up From Under” is a ballad in which bassist Johnson opens up so many harmonic possibilities that Versace spins into so many differently beautiful colors the tune could have gone on for the entire length of the disc without ever losing appeal. During the title track Versace’s playing is both harmonically based and free, not to mention a technical thrill ride, that here again he could have forged further and not lost listeners’ interest. Drummer Bishop, obviously influenced by Elvin Jones with his use of rolling thunder figurations throughout the disc, keeps everyone united by his stellar sense of rhythmic phrasing on this and all tracks.
Trumpeter Marriott, who has already made a significant name for himself in the Northwest part of the United States, has a chromatic sense that, while it might not be quite as developed as Tim Hagans’, is still seeking and moving forward of its own volition. Sure footed of technique, there is no doubt he spends lots of time perfecting his art in the practice room, he is still seeking the right venue in which to exhibit his gifts and skills; this recording, his first of all original material, is a good step in the right direction. If you’re not put off by following a musician as they seek personal musical relevance in a quasi-free conceptual framework then this is a good recording to check out.