Various Artists: A Summit Jazz Adventure
is a sampler from Summit’s impressive roster of Jazz artists, and like most such endeavors it’s something of a mixed bag. On the plus side, Summit has a number of strapping horses in its stable, and the track on which they’re running here is fast and well–tended. For maximum pleasure, however, one’s tastes should be fairly wide–ranging, as the music encompasses a number of styles from smooth to adventurous and much in between. There’s even a soupcon of comedy (Steve Allen’s droll introduction to “Chitlins,” which is then performed instrumentally by trumpeter Louise Baranger’s superb big band). As might be expected from a label whose origins are rooted in classical brass, a number of topnotch trumpeters are featured including Baranger, Bobby Shew, Vaughn Nark, Claudio Roditi, Allen Vizzutti, Ken Watters and the entire New York Trumpet Ensemble (on one of two “bonus” tracks — bonus tracks on a sampler? Okay, I’ll buy that). As if that weren’t brass enough, Ken Watters’ brother, Harry, is featured on trombone, as are Tom Bacon (French horn) and Sam Pilafian (tuba). And oh, we almost forgot — a trio of reed players, Tim Eyermann, Pete Christlieb and the near–legendary Lee Konitz. Nark and Pilafian are heard twice, with the former singing a la Chet Baker on “My Funny Valentine” and playing muted trumpet (with strings) on a lively rendition of Dizzy’s “Con Alma,” the latter directing the Pilafian Project’s “Meltdown” and lending his talents to the Marohnic–Pilafian–Hopkins Jazz Nonet on “Boplicity” (which recreates the sound of Miles Davis’ “Birth of the Cool” sessions from the early ’50s). As for the saxophonists, Christlieb solos on a big–band version of “Who’s Sorry Now?,” Eyermann aims for the radio market with “Karla’s Fire,” and Konitz is typically masterful on Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now.” The Christmas bonus is a pleasant surprise, while the Trumpet Summit wraps the package neatly with an idiomatic reading of Ellington’s “Toodle–Oo.” If you haven’t already acquired the discs from which they came, the sampler is worthwhile for a number of tracks, especially those by the Jazz Nonet, Roditi, the Baranger Big Band, Shew, Bacon and Konitz, with the others only a step behind.
Track listing: Boplicity; Who’s Sorry Now?; My Funny Valentine; ACA Referendum; La Vida del Señor Lorenzo; Daahoud; Zig Zag; Chitlins (spoken introduction); Chitlins; Cooking with Bacon; Con Alma; The Girls Back Home; Karla’s Fire; If You Could See Me Now; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; East St. Louis Toodle–Oo (66:38).