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Say It Plain by Scotty Barnhart

The first sound from Scotty Barnhart's debut release, Say It Plain, a parade whistle, will make you sit up and take notice. Your attention is justified. Barnhart is an educator at Florida State, the author of The World of Jazz Trumpet and a creative composer/arranger. His many performance credentials include over seventeen years as trumpet soloist with the Basie Band.

This whistle also signals the melding of tradition and innovation that is at the core of Barnhart's music. Could you imagine John Coltrane's challenging "Giant Steps" being part of a lively and dissonant Bourbon Street parade? Barnhart did and the results will please you. Joining the festivities are Marcus Roberts in the piano chair and Todd Williams on soprano sax.

All the varied charts are by Barnhart. Guests are many but the foundation is his sparkling trumpet and those simpatico and swinging associates from Florida State - Bill Peterson, Rodney Jordan and Leon Anderson, Jr.

So many highlights: "Say It Plain" is joyful with a sanctified beat, growls and trumpet talk, plus a lot of agility from guitarist Rick Lollar. The sensitive "Dedicated to You," an original, is a little gem - just Scotty and Ellis Marsalis. Vocalist Jamie Davis reminds us of Johnny Hartman in his approach to "Young at Heart" over muted trumpet. The light-hearted "Put On a Happy Face" builds in intensity while " I've Never Been in Love Before" contrasts a pensive piano/trumpet intro with the unexpected happenings that follow. Watch out for blistered bare feet as "Burning Sand" brings back Roberts and Williams. It's that hot. Dizzy is saluted as Wynton Marsalis and Barnhart collaborate on his beautiful "Con Alma" and the CD closes with the playful "Pay Me My Money" with Barnhart and guest Clark Terry who also contributes a Terryesque vocal.

Stanley Crouch comes through with an essay - Tall Smoke - The Music of Scotty Barnhart. An essay, not "liner notes." Read it and learn more.

While I wait for Scotty Barnhart's encore - and he has set the bar high - I plan to do my best to wear out Say It Plain.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Scotty Barnhart
  • CD Title: Say It Plain
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Unity Music
  • Rating: Five Stars
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