Monday, December 12, 2016

Power Trio + Trumpeter Triumphs

Since first hearing "Way Out West", Sonny Rollins's 1957 Lp with Ray Brown (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums), I have loved the sound of trios built on that instrumentation (more so than piano or guitar trios, but that's me.)  When you have a melodic yet forceful drummer and a bassist whose playing is foundational as well as melodic, an adventurous saxophonist can do so much.  The excitement and beauty are the interactions and conversations within the music.

Drummer and composer Rudy Royston (pictured above) recently released his second album as a leader.  "Rise of Orion" (Greenleaf Music) features the powerful percussionist in a trio setting with saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Yasushi Nakamura - it's a such a fine recording (my review is here) and now the three musicians are on a 9 gig/10 day tour that takes them around the country and, lucky for us CT residents, deposits them at The Side Door Cafe in Old Lyme on Friday December 16.  Replacing Nakamura (who is in Tbilisi, Georgia, this weekend with pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Leon Parker) is bassist Thomson Kneeland.

The door opens at 7:30 p.m. and the music commences 60 minutes later. The room will rock but keep your ears open for the soulful ballads Mr. Royston composes.  For more information and reservations, call 860-434-0886.

Here is one of those ballads (Mr. Irabagon on tenor sax):

Trumpeter Marquis Hill, a native of Chicago IL, brings his Quintet to The Side Door on Saturday (12/17).  The young musician, who has worked with Marcus Miller, Joe Lovano, drummer Makaya McCraven, and bassist Matt Ulery, won the 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition and recently released his first album on Concord Records, "The Way We Play."  It's actually his 5th recording as a leader since 2011.  For the past 2 years, he's been closely involved with FONT, the Festival of New Trumpet, created by the late Roy Campbell Jr. and Dave Douglas in 2003.  This September, Hill created (thanks to the Roy Campbell Jr. commission) created new works for his ensemble Signatures in Brass, six trumpets (!) and rhythm section.

For his gig in Old Lyme, the music will be created by Hill (who also plays flugelhorn), Braxton Cook (alto saxophone), Joel Ross (piano), Chris Smith (bass), and Jonathan Pinson (drums). Hill's records feature many different styles, from straight-ahead to post-bop to "soul jazz" to hip hop and more.  He's generous with giving his cohorts solo space and, when he steps out, Hill has a fluid style with hints of Booker Little and Clifford Brown.

The first set starts at 8:30.  For more information, go to   To learn more about the trumpeter, go to

Here's some music from Hill's 2014 album, "Modern Flows EP, Vol. 1."

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