Thursday, September 6, 2012

Human Spirit: Dialogue

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Dialogue

The members of Human Spirit — a core unit of the many jazz musicians who have made Seattle and the Pacific Northwest their home — are trumpeter/composer/producer Thomas Marriott, saxophonist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen. Their combined resumes includes 14 albums as leaders and dozens more as sidemen. For this release, they added guests Orrin Evans (piano) and Essiet Essiet (bass). The resulting quintet delivers an album dubbed the “new” West Coast jazz.

Marriott, the group’s best-known member, has won numerous competitive trumpet awards over the years; he’s a seven-time Golden Ear winner and did three world tours with Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau band. Marriott has been featured on more than 100 recordings during his career; his style is pure, and his tone crystal clear. 

Taylor and Jorgensen are equally adept on their instruments. Both head small-combo groups of their own and are first-call artists by name instrumentalists and vocalists who perform periodically on the West Coast. 

Dialogue presents an entirely original menu. Marriott composed four tracks (“Reversal of Fortune,” “Song for Samuel,” “148 Lexington” and “Pelham Gardens”), while Taylor contributed “Stepford and Son” and “After Hours,” and Jorgensen delivered “In Unity” and “Ridgecrest.” It’s refreshing that all the tunes have “substance”; each features a distinct melodic line, and the solos relate to those lines, as opposed to being merely “add-ons.” I found myself listening to all the tracks because I was genuinely involved with the music, not just because they swung (although that’s also true). 

This session was recorded live during two nights at Tula’s Jazz Club, in Seattle, during the 2011 Earshot Jazz Festival. You can tell, from the large audience’s reaction, that everybody present also loved this performance!

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