Brian Lynch Salutes Some Undeservedly Obscure Jazz Trumpet Heroes
More musicians should be doing what trumpeter Brian Lynch has done with his Unsung Heroes series, “a tribute to some underappreciated trumpet masters.” Lynch has created the series – now a trio of albums, available for download along with extensive liner notes at www.holisticmusicworks.com – to regenerate interest in several unjustly underrated or even forgotten horn greats. Volume 2 – streaming in its entirety at Lynch’s Bandcamp page– is also now out on cd featuring the trumpeter alongside Vincent Herring on alto sax, Alex Hoffman on tenor sax, Rob Schneiderman on piano, David Wong on bass and Pete Van Nostrand on drums. Lynch’s tribute emphasizes his obscure greats’ tunesmithing, eschewing explosive cadenzas and garish displays of extended technique in favor of a sometimes clear, sometimes balmy tone and a purist lyricism, in the tradition, rooted in the blues. In a more expansive sense, what Lynch is doing here is a more long-form take on the jukebox style of jazz that JD Allen has revitalized lately. Long, expansive takes give the band a chance to stretch out and take their time with them, resulting in the kind of relaxed, soulful playing that all too often gets lost in the frantic scramble to wrap up a recording date these days.
Tommy Turrentine’s It Could Be kicks off this volume, a nonchalantly catchy swing tune, Herring’s alto solo coalescing out of bop flurries and handing off to Lynch, who takes it in a steadily lyrical direction as he does throughout the album. Among the handful of quartet numbers here, the standout is Joe Gordon’s slow, balmy ballad Heleen, which the band methodically work their way into gentle, matter-of-fact wee-hours swing. Sandy, by Howard McGhee goes from complicated to bright, carefree and bluesy, Lynch adding some energetic doublestops when he’s not running eights, Hoffman following with a bobbing, weaving attack.
The first of three Idrees Sulieman tunes, Short Steps follows a similar path from enigmatic to brighter, Schneiderman’s terse piano handing off to Lynch’s balmy atmospherics as it winds out. Sulieman’s Out/Dancing Shoes has the whole ensemble leaping around drum breaks with an agile grin. The last of his songs, Orange Blossoms is cast as a slow summery ballad with an undercurrent of unease; Lynch’s long, wary, steady grey-skies solo is his best on this album Lynch’s own Marissa’s Mood, a jump blues, portays Lynch’s wife as graceful, agile and fun And oldschool – this is a hit!
Lynch’s advocacy for Turrentine is particularly forceful in the wistful, nostalgic ballad Gone But Not Forgotten, which in a fair world would be a standard. ‘Nother Never, a Lynch original dedicated to Louis Smith, gets a lively trumpet/drums intro, a lickety-split swing and then an almost dixieland bustle. They close much the way they started with Donald Byrd’s I’m So Excited By You, resisting the urge to swing it as hard as they can til midway through, Lynch playfully jousting with Van Nostrand on the way out.