By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Opening Statement
Tito Carrillo, originally from Austin, Texas, is a key member of Chicago’s thriving jazz and Latin musical community. He plays trumpet, composes, arranges and teaches, and is deeply immerged in both the classical and jazz genres. He has played with numerous name artists, but is primarily associated with the “territory” bands and musicians at home in the Chicago area.
His style is Latin-tinged bop, similar to that played by the groups that Dizzy Gillespie fronted late in his career. Carrillo is a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the latter under the direction of Jon Faddis and Bill Russo. Carrillo also is a full-time jazz trumpet professor at the University of Illinois.
All but one of this album's tunes are Carrillo compositions. Most are mid- to up-tempo swingers, with the emphasis on swing; these guys really groove. The basic group is a quartet that features pianist Benjamin Lewis, bassist Lorin Cohen and drummer Dana Hall. For this session, Carrillo also added Geof Bradfield and Phillip Doyle on reeds; and Darwin Noguera handles keyboard duties on two tracks.
One of the indicators of a good composer/arranger is how “big” the band sounds when performing his charts; this album’s ensemble passages make the group sound much larger than it is, and that’s a plus. Carrillo’s trumpet work is excellent; he has a clean, brilliant tone and extensive range, yet he’s restrained: no screaming. The other players also are upper-echelon.
Chicago is fortunate to have this group in its fold.