Friday, May 17, 2013

Allen Vizzutti: Ritzville

Summit Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Ritzville

Allen Vizzutti is a trumpeter, composer and educator; he’s a master musician to his peers, but is relatively unknown to the general public. He’s also a perpetual- motion machine who never stops performing. His busy schedule derives, in part, from the fact that he performs in both the jazz and classical genres; he’s scheduled for almost 50 recitals and concerts during one six-month period this year.  

Vizzutti was born in 1952 and still in his early 20s when he became a member of Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, one of the last of Woody’s great bands. Vizzutti also worked with Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea and Doc Severinson’s Tonight Show Band, and has performed in literally dozens of name military, national, city, state and university concert and symphony orchestras throughout the United States and 40 countries worldwide. 

Oh, yes: He’s also a mainstay in movie studio orchestras.  

Ritzville isn’t your usual album. Vizzutti’s trumpet, flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet are the only “horns” featured; no other brass or reed instruments are used. The basic group also contains pianos (Chick Corea, Darrell Grant and Laura Vizzutti), acoustic and electric basses (Stanley Clarke and Reggie Hamilton), acoustic and electric guitar (Mike Miller) and drums (Ronald Bruner Jr.). These artists share duties on the various tracks. A few tracks also utilize a string section: another bassist, half a dozen violins, two violas and three cellos. And a vocalist for good measure.

These 11 tracks are composed by Vizzutti, and the styles range from traditional jazz through fusion, at meters from hip-hop to blues and ballads. And, no surprise, the awesome inventory of artists and instruments produces a truly joyous noise. 
Since Vizzutti is the only horn artist featured, special attention to his performance is warranted. His tone is gorgeous, particularly in the upper registers; it’s brilliant, without ever getting into the screaming mode that so many jazz players create, yet he produces stratospheric notes effortlessly and nails them precisely on key. His techniques with tongue and keys are perfection; I’ve never heard better. That’s essential for classical work, yet when he’s performing jazz, there’s no “stilted” feel to his work. The man can groove with the best.

The other musicians are just what you’d expect; you can’t do better than the likes of Corea, Clarke and the other members of this august “rhythm section.” As for the string group, a special accolade applies: It never gets in the way, but always complements the compositions in the best possible way.

This album is chock full of great music, and great fun ... and it swings, too!

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