Sunday, March 29, 2009

SEARCHING WITHIN

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I remember the first time I heard you blow. Sean, you’re a member of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave’s "trumpet summit" at the 2003 Detroit International Jazz Festival. Belgrave assemble a pack up-and-coming trumpet sensations from various cities he’s played in. You showed up your peers. I got the impression that wasn’t your intent. You appeared to be a lovable person not fiercely competitive. The performance wasn’t billed at a “battle royal” just a bunch of budding superstars having a lot fun. I had an inkling you’d reach stardom before the others I followed your career

I made it a priority to attend each of your subsequent performances at Detroit’s jazz fest. I wished you’d perform in Detroit at least three times a year. That never happened, but you did sign with the Detroit based record company Mack Avenue Records. You earned the first trumpet chair in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra conducted by famed trumpeter and bandleader Wynton Marsalis.

You introduce alto saxophonist Tia Fuller to Detroit. I wondered if Fuller was your protégé’. It seemed as if you and Fuller were meant to blow together. Fuller joined you at Mack Avenue Records a few years later. She became a respected session leader, and she landed a high profile side-woman gig with Tina Turner’s heir apparent Beyonce’ Knowles. I bet you’re proud of Fuller. Her debut for Mack Avenue “Healing Space” was a good album.

Sean I was peeved you didn’t, played the festival last year. I hoped you're scheduled this year. To date, you’ve released five albums “Eternal Journey,” “Gemini,” Root,” “Kaleidoscope,” and “The Search Within”. The latter is your new lateness offering, which Make Avenue released last week. I’m a big fan of your live performances, but some of you albums I liked and others I disliked. Your third albums “Roots” is my favorite.

“Roots” captured what an awesome horn-smith you’ve become. I’m not a big fan of gospel music, and I haven’t been to church since
I was 10-year-old. I’m, 42, now. After listening to “Roots,” a gospel tinged album, I wanted to be baptized. That album was that inspiring.

However, Sean, I can’t say the same about “The Search Within,” which I listened to Thursday. I wanted to like the album because I'm your fan. The more I played it the more felt it was crammed together. Given the album’s deep title, I was geared up to hear a recording with spiritual or metaphysical meaning. The Search Within” had a handful of nice solos, but not enough for me to endorse it.

On the opener “Transitions,” you soared in the upper register like your trumpet ancestors trumpeters Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown. You’re able to channel their spirits. Alto saxophonist Brian Hogan was competent throughout, but he couldn’t match the soul-mate chemistry you built with Tia Fuller. On “Life Cycle,” harmonica player Gregoire Moret seemed to be out of place as though the rest of the band were several car lengths ahead and Moret struggled to keep up. The harmonica player, the flutist and the vocalist was overkill. What it boiled down to was “The Search Within” needed some heavy editing.


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