Category Archives: trumpet

The Jason Parker Quartet Shines During Its “Idle Moments”

Some days back, after I blipped Grant Green’s classic “Idle Moments,”  Jason Parker (@1WorkinMusician) let me know his Seattle-based quartet had recorded its own version of this timeless masterpiece on their second full-length CD No More, No Less.

Parker is a busy player on Seattle’s thriving jazz scene, and his blog posts and tweets about making a living as a full-time musician and bandleader have a healthy following.   I was definitely curious:  would The Jason Parker Quartet’s version of “Idle Moments” stand up to a comparison of the original?

Oh, yeah.  The quartet — Parker on trumpet, Josh Rawlings on piano, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, D’Vonne Lewis  on drums, and special guest Cynthia Mullis on tenor sax — keeps the original’s languidly slow,
no- need-to-be-in-a-hurry pace, and Parker, Mullis, and Rawlings solo beautifully over those classic changes.    Everyone’s ears are open and I especially enjoyed listening to Mullis jump off the riffs Rawlings served up during her solo.  Nice, very nice.   The Jason Parker Quartet gives a respectful nod to the past while making “Idle Moments” its very own.

Check out The Jason Parker Quartet’s “Idle Moments”:

And here’s Grant Green’s original, full-length version:

The Jason Parker Quartet as recorded on No More, No Less:

Jason Parker – trumpet
Josh Rawlings – piano
Evan Flory-Barnes – bass
D’Vonne Lewis – drums
Special guest Cynthis Mullis – tenor sax


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Filed under Blip, Jason Parker, trumpet

A Native Son Lifts the First City of Jazz



Last September, while New Orleans native and award-winning jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard was out touring in support of his latest album Choices, he and his group stopped by for a visit to the  Tavis Smiley Show. They played two selections from the album: the title track and “A New World,” a performance you can catch further on in this post.

This wasn’t just another promotional talk show appearance in support of a musician’s latest album.  Blanchard is one our greatest proponents of jazz.  He’s both a link to tradition and a vital teacher and leader by example for up-and-coming players as jazz moves towards its future.   Blanchard often uses his music to make important statements on the issues of the day.   Tavis Smiley has always been a strong promoter of jazz and jazz musicians and is known to use the art of the interview as a tool for social enlightenment.   This segment gives us a glimpse at how jazz can invigorate social commentary and how the infusion of social commentary into jazz music can drive jazz long into the future.

Smiley’s  interview with Blanchard takes us from Blanchard’s New Orleans upbringing through his personal and professional reactions to hurricane Katrina and into his latest album Choices, where he uses the spontaneous spoken words of Dr. Cornel West to inspire his music and inform his audience.  West implores us to lead lives of courage, compassion, and service, and now his message has a novel way of reaching an audience — through Blanchard’s recordings and performances.

Choices is just the latest in a long line of Blanchard’s socially-conscious endeavors, many centered on his home town of New Orleans.   He placed his sorrow, rage, beautiful score and performances into long-time collaborator Spike Lee’s documentary on New Orleans after Katrina,  When the Levees Broke – A Requiem In Four Acts. Blanchard has scored all of Lee’s films since 1991.

He’s also the artistic director of and teaches master classes for the  Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which recently moved from its first home at the University of Southern California to Loyola University in New Orleans.  The Institute is a big part of New Orleans’ ongoing rebirth and resurrection post-Katrina.

As a jazz fan, I’m really excited to see and hear Blanchard teaching, hiring, and inspiring the next generations of jazz musicians.   And I’m thrilled to see him collaborating with Dr. Cornel West as well as Spike Lee, because merging jazz and social commentary might well serve to revitalize the music and keep it healthy.

Watch and listen to Terence Blanchard and just four of the musicians he’s hired and inspired down the years as they perform “Choices” and “A New World.”

Terence Blanchard Group
Fabian Almazan piano
Brice Winston tenor sax
Michael Olatuja bass
Kendrick Scott drums

The Tavis Smiley Show
4 September 2009
“Choices” and “A New World” 10:04

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Filed under LIVE, PBS, trumpet, video

Jeremy Pelt’s Men of Honor Light Up Duc des Lombards

Men of Honor

Men of Honor

Give Jeremy Pelt credit for calling his cadre of super-talented young jazz men exactly what they are — men of honor.   As young as he is, Pelt’s been known for a decade as one of the best we have on trumpet, and he keeps great company.  Just last week his quintet made themselves at home at Duc des Lombards in Paris.  We’re fortunate to have a brief glimpse of that evening, the club’s video mashup of “From a Life of the Same Name” and “Us/Them,” both from Pelt’s latest album Men of Honor.

Pelt’s new-traditional vision is supported by drummer Gerald Cleaver, bassist Dwayne Burno, tenor man JD Allen, and pianist Xavier Davis (in place of the album’s Danny Grissett).  This is clearly a seasoned, together band.  It’s a pleasure to listen to the quintet move gently through the opening of “From a Life of the Same Name” with Pelt and Allen harmonizing over Davis’ quiet explorations.

For the neo-bop burner “Us/Them” Pelt replaces his flugelhorn with his trumpet.  Listen as Davis dialogues with Allen and Pelt before they launch fully into their respective solos, and Davis steps up to ride Burno and Cleaver’s pulse all the way out.

It’s a genuine privilege to hear and view these men of honor putting their stamp on some of the best of jazz tradition.

Jeremy Pelt Quintet
Duc des Lombards, Paris
5 April 2010
“From a Life of the Same Name” & “Us/Them” 9:35

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Filed under Blip, bop, LIVE, trumpet, video

Christian Scott Exhales Beauty In Berlin

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Back in February Christian Scott and his quintet were on tour in support of his groundbreaking new jazz album, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.  This video catches the band in Berlin performing “Isadora.”

It’s a mesmerizing performance.  “Isadora” is a slow sensual waltz held  rhythmically together by Kristopher Funn’s bass and Jamire Wilson’s cymbals.  His brushed snare swirls,  an extension of Scott’s  warm, muted, breathy tone.  Pianist Milton Fletcher and guitarist Matt Stevens repeat a descending figure that keeps “Isadora” from drifting away completely, as Scott breathes the melody directly into our hearts.

I found myself drawn into this piece the way one might be lean in closer to someone when they lower their voice to tell you something special.  Christian Scott has important stories to tell on Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, and this performance of  “Isadora” is a wonderful invitation to listen closely.

I really like  this video, which was shot from one rock-solid stable position. I’m able to look at the entire band from an audience member’s vantage point.  Sometimes simplicity is a beautiful thing.

Christian Scott Quintet live in Berlin
18 February 2010
“Isadora” 7:45


Filed under Blip, LIVE, trumpet, video