Review by Brad Walseth
Pianist Trompeter shows another side of his prodigious talents with this sizzling set recorded at Chicago's beloved Green Mill Lounge. Featuring a top-notch cast including: Ralph Bowen on tenor sax, John Swana on trumpet, and a ferocious rhythm section of Dennis Carroll on bass and Dana Hall on drums, Trompeter leads a knock-down, drag-out session that covers well-worn standards like "Invitation," "Stella by Starlight" and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," along with Herbie Hancock's "Driftin'," and Joe Henderson's "The Kicker." Strangely, the set features none of Trompeter's own wonderful original songs, but Bowen pitches in with two tunes and Swana adds one.
This CD is mostly burning hot straight-ahead jazz, and there's nothing wrong with that. Trompeter has appeared often on the Green Mill stage and he and his compatriots sound completely at home here. Hearing a great group of musicians taking no prisoners on tunes like Bowen's "The First Stone," "Invitation" and "The Kicker is always a thrill, and all musicians perform admirably.
Trompeter is especially noted for his ability to play with sensitivity and imagination (check out his unique inversions throughout), and he is really in his element on the quieter pieces like "Stella" (ok, not that quiet), Swana's "Sweet Sadness" and his duet piece, "Polka Dots" (with Bowen). A killer Bowen original ("Soul Proprietor") ends things with such fire that Capone can probably hear Bowen's angular shrieking tenor and Dana Hall's powerhouse drumming in his old haunt from wherever he's at. Another fine recording from a pianist clearly on the rise.
Jim Trompeter will be appearing the Green Mill Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25.