Sean Jones, “im*pro*vise – never before seen” (Mack Avenue); Bill Warfield Big Band featuring Randy Brecker “Trumpet Story” (Planet Arts Network). Two creditable jazz trumpet players who seem to have new and different things on their minds. In the case of trumpet player Sean Jones – formerly the lead trumpet for Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Band (a thankless task indeed, by some lights) – what he’s doing on “im*pro*vise” is making a very old school jazz record indeed. It’s just a good quartet featuring one of the best younger jazz pianists Orrin Evans and no special production, overdubbing etc. “This time it was just the four of us in one room, no barriers between us, playing live,” says Jones, and the results on so many of the tunes (“Dark Times” for instance) are indeed as urgent, immediate and intense as he was hoping for. The trouble with Jones’ kind of trumpet playing is that it’s full of an empty bandsman’s kind of trumpet virtuosity, failing to be of the Eldridge/Gillespie/Brown/Hubbard school rather than succeeding at the mood expressivity of the Miles Davis/Chet Baker/Terence Blanchard/Marsalis at his best. It makes a full quartet disc sound brittle sometimes. Because Randy Brecker is dealing with the orchestra of his friend, arranger and trumpet player Bill Warfield (a jazz academic from Lehigh University), there is a good deal of variation in sonority, from the brass richness of Warfield’s version of Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child” to the dark, brooding muted textures and Stravinskyish carnival dancing of Warfield’s “In the Land of Chad and Barbie,” the disc is never uninteresting for very long. It gives Randy Brecker opportunities to do some of his most interesting playing on disc in quite a while. Other soloists besides Brecker include guitarist Vic Jurist, always a pleasure in any context.
3 stars for Jones; 3.5 stars for Warfield Big Band with Brecker.
– Jeff Simon