With the trumpets of Vega and Marriott is the young master George Colligan on the Hammond B-3—working those bass pedals like Bach on crack—and the always extraordinary Matt Jorgensen on drums. Thomas Marriott produced the album, recorded at Orbit Studios.
Curtis Fuller’s The Egyptian sets the album in motion with Matt Jorgensen’s fine drum work. Listen for the cool nod-and-a-wink to Art Blakey. George Colligan climbs aboard with the B-3 before the twin trumpets join in. Oh, man. You’re hooked only a few bars into the album.
Marriot gets the first solo with his fluid proficiency and liquid fire. George Colligan again proves himself master of all things with keys. Well-known for his piano work, his performances on the other keyboards have been proven again and again and this album is no different. Vega takes the third solo and cranks up the already-existing excitement. Jorgensen locks down the rhythm with Colligan while the horns play off of each other energetically. Great playing.
Totem Pole by Lee Morgan is riddled with great riffs and sweet spots for solos. Vega goes first and the differences between him and Marriott begin to take shape. Differences in tonality and phrasing make them so well-suited to each other. After all, who wants pure duplication? No, this is dialogue and debate with Colligan playing the moderator and Jorgensen the referee. Then, when they play in unison…Good God, ya’ll. Can’t get enough.
Then comes Erroll Garner’s Misty. They did this one right…like all the others. Vega plays the muted horn while Marriott takes the open trumpet. The dynamic is sweet between and then Colligan works in the organ in vibrant fashion before the return of Marriott’s trumpet. Vega takes over on muted trumpet before handing off the close to Colligan. So well-arranged. Such smoky delivery.
United by Wayne Shorter is kicked off by Vega and Marriott in tandem. Colligan and Jorgensen jump in and then let the trades begin! Vega goes first, followed by Marriott. By this time, you can begin to tell who’s who by their distinctive playing. Jorgensen does capture the attention along the way. Plus, Colligan being the drummer that he is, he plays with plenty of room for Jorgensen’s drumming. There is space allowed but there is absolutely no wasted space between these artists. The tandem trumpets take the piece to close with palmas escorting them out.
Cedar Walton’s Firm Roots has a cool groove and a good melodic hook to it. Again the pair of horns start the piece off and set the hook. Vega’s solo is just so fine. Colligan takes over with the pounding bass lines and sizzling keys. Marriott solos next and you just have to love the guy’s fluid style. Jorgensen gets a smoking solo, punctuated by stabs from Colligan, and the dynamic between the two of them is just as electrifying as anything else. So help me, I almost clapped at the end of Jorgensen’s solo.
An original from Marriott follows with The Bourgeoloo (a.k.a. At the Summit). “This mother smokes,” as my cousin used to exclaim. The tight B-3/drums opening sets a bright pace and the trumpets join in just as tightly with them. Vega solos with flugelhorn over the snapping rim shots and the bass pedals. What a sound. Colligan follows him in one of his most memorable organ solo passes. Inspired, Marriott takes it all and creates one of his very own gorgeous solos. This track was the one I kept coming back to again and again.
Charlie Parker’s Quasimodo comes after. The approach was a fascinating one as both trumpets are muted but Vega plays with the Harmon mute and Marriott with the cupped mute. Yeah, you can hear the difference. This is how they open the all-so-familiar piece. George Colligan comes over with the organ solo and the walking bass pedals. Again, listen to Jorgensen below.
Marriott returns with open trumpet and does his magic, Freddie Hubbard-style. He is followed by Vega, who remains muted. The interplay of these two (include Colligan for three) is truly remarkable. It is entirely satisfying.
The album closes with the brilliant arrangement of Cole Porter’s What Is This Thing Called Love. Colligan jumps starts the piece with Jorgensen swinging away. The trumpets punch their way in and Vega takes the first solo with the flugelhorn. That tonal difference is all the difference. Then Marriott’s trumpet bursts forth in trade with Jorgensen’s drums. The whole group carries it to the end. I like it.
Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott’s Return of the East-West Summit is a fine exercise in trumpet tone and technique, proficiency and passion. The inclusion of George Colligan and Matt Jorgensen was a master-stroke. If you love trumpets, you will love this album. If you don’t, you will still love this album. Listen to it, again and again. Wear the CD out. Then sit and wait for Bride of the East-West Trumpet Summit. Yeah, it’s that good.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl