(Mutant Eel Music)
Back when the term “digital era” referred to wristwatches with glowing red digits, music industry honchos often gave their most promising artists a chance to develop over a number of years and a series of recordings. Although such patience is rare today, the rewards can be great, as evidenced by trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt’s latest release, Imprints.
On Greenblatt’s 2006 debut, Mance’s Dance, and 2008′s Break of Day, credited to The Here & Now quintet, the young Seattle musician mined jazz from the ’50s and ’60s. While both offerings showed promise, they were somewhat tentative, as if he were more comfortable paying homage than pushing himself. Not so on Imprints. The album kicks off with “Frafrito Malenke Bonacci (‘DIAP!’),” a salsafied fanfare with clever brass voicings and handclap rhythms. Greenblatt’s subsequent solos are so ripe that juice drips from the trumpet’s bell.
Equally memorable are “As I Wait for You,” on which Greenblatt follows the wordless vocals of Sofia Tosello to gorgeous effect; the swinging Sting cover “Consider Me Gone”; and “Silhouette,” a mood piece that blends classical precision with a bracing taste of Klezmer. Although material like “Gotta Feel It” isn’t much of a departure from earlier efforts, the playing by Greenblatt and his compatriots (reedman Geoff Vidal, pianist Adam Birnbaum, guitarist Simon Kafka, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Donald Edwards) is far bolder.
Granted, some moments underwhelm, including a down-tempo version of “Pure Imagination” that settles for mere prettiness. But in general, Greenblatt puts his own imprint on Imprints — a definite sign of progress.
— Michael Roberts