By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Human Spirit
Pacific Northwest trumpet and flugelhorn master Thomas Marriott was born into a true musical family: Both grandparents were professional musicians, as are a sister and brother. Marriott received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Washington; then, after winning the prestigious Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition Award, he moved to New York City and immediately began to play with the big guys.
Marriott completed three world tours with Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band, then worked with other name artists such as Chico O’Farrell, Les Brown, Joe Locke, Ritchie Cole and Eric Reed. Marriott then returned to Seattle, where he has become a key member of that area’s marvelous jazz population.
Although his East Coast years usually were with big band groups, he now concentrates on smaller units; this album features a quartet consisting of Marriott, Mark Taylor (alto sax), Matt Jorgensen (drums) and Gary Versace (B-3 organ).
You’ll immediately notice Marriott’s tonal excellence; he’s one of the best-sounding brass players working today. What comes out of his horns is brilliant and beautiful: no shrillness, no excessive vibrato and no “screaming.” And considering how difficult it would be to keep his instrument from becoming overbearing, he melds perfectly with the sax and organ.
Marriott opens this album with a beautiful cover of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” and then puts a cherry on top of the sundae with Ellington’s seldom-heard “Low Key Lightly.” Those songs, by themselves, were enough to win me over.
Marriott closes with Miles Davis’ “The Brown Hornet,” from his 1969 studio album Filles De Kilimanjaro. The remaining tunes are Marriott originals which, considering the limited instrumentation, are quite interesting and surprisingly “full.”
I’ve never heard Marriott when I didn’t thoroughly enjoy him, and this release maintains that standard.