Monday, March 7, 2016

Jim Rotondi - Dark Blue (2016)

Label: Smike Sessions Records

What the public misses with horn players, especially trumpeters, is they have to maintain the line while literally adding their voices to the mix. It’s not enough to blow the notes on the page, letting the instrument do all the heavy lifting, not for them and certainly not in jazz. Every breath, every contortion, is either intentional or accidental, and always brutally revealing. So save your breath with those mindless trumpeter jokes.

Now take a listen to Jim Rotondi’s vast discography as a sideman and leader. He’s nothing short of confident, commanding, and stupefyingly genius. Into jazz up to his neck, the 20-plus-year veteran plays better and differently from other trumpeters because he also understands the intricacies of the other instruments, beginning on the piano at the tender age of eight before finding his own groove on trumpet at 12 while growing up in Montana.

A devotee of Clifford Brown’s music right off, Rotondi attended the University of North Texas, in its music program, and showed early signs of that creative, ballsy genius in 1984 when he took the International Trumpet Guild’s jazz competition.

Once he made it to New York, Rotondi honed his chops and broadened his creative horizons on big bands — Lionel Hampton’s, Ray Charles, Bob Mintzer — and ensembles with Curtis Fuller, Joe Chambers, Lou Donaldson, Charles Earland. His own groups include vibist Joe Locke (Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Beastie Boys), saxophonist Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve David, bassist John Webber, and pianist David Hazeltine.

Rotondi gathered all the right players for his next album, Dark Blue on Smoke Sessions Records — due for release on March 4, 2016 with a CD release March 4-6 at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club in New York City. They include frequent collaborators Locke and Hazeltine, as well as new friends, bassist David Wong and drummer Carl Allen. Read more...