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Read the latest edition of Hot House Magazine! View and download here in Acrobat: August 2014
Winning Spins by George Kanzler
Two trumpeters who have been important participants in the New York jazz scene for three-plus and two-plus decades, respectively, are featured in this month’s Winning Spins. Eddie Allen hit the Big Apple via the jazz program at William Paterson University in the late 1970s and, besides leading his own small and large bands, has been part of ensembles as diverse as Mongo Santamaria’s, Muhal Richard Abrams’ and Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy. Alex Sipiagin is one of a cohort of talented Russian jazz players on the scene; he came here in the early 1990s with bassist Boris Kozlov. Both are long-time members of the Mingus Big Band and, along with three others bandmates, constitute the cooperative quintet Opus 5.
Push, Eddie Allen (Edjalen Music), draws on the leader’s experiences with Afro-Latin, big band and post-bop ensembles and features eight of Allen’s original compositions as well as a ballad standard. Allen has taken a basic sextet instrumentation with tenor saxophonist Keith Loftis and trombonist Dion Tucker joining him with a rhythm section of pianist Mark Soskin, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer E.J. Strickland and augmented it with the electric keyboards/synths of Misha Tsiganov.
A couple of Afro-Latin grooves kick off the CD beginning with “Nakia,” a Latin shuffle enhanced by synth string backgrounds and “Sacred Ground,” wherein a tropical groove is laid down by marimba patterns from Tsiganov that contrast with the boppish horn ensemble. A sensual dreamy quality pervades “Caress,” a ballad at a slow lope with bassist Davis carrying the melody before seductive, billowing solos from the horns over wafting synth strings.
Allen is a trumpeter who has mastered the vast historic tradition of his instrument. He can squeeze and bend notes like a swing or trad player, produce the clarion peals of a Latin lead and skip and flutter with bebop dexterity. On his boogaloo “Hillside Strut,” he evokes Lee Morgan or Clifford Brown, while his gorgeous open limning of “Who Can I Turn To?” is the equal of any trumpet balladeer working today. On “Whispers in the Dark,” a rumba cum samba, a low trombone solo perfectly contrasts with Allen’s trumpet gymnastics, from pinched and squeezed notes to squirting cackles, all over a synth string honeyed background.
The backbeat shuffle opening of “Eve Deceived,” with vibes sounds courtesy of Tsiganov, includes a slower riff section, setting up solos climaxing with Allen’s: a tour-de-force begun with slithering lines leading to a long-held high note cascading into a Dizzy Gillespie-like arpeggio and squeezed off flourish finale.
Allen’s originals are involving and entertaining, none more so than the last, title track: a sequential feature for drummer Strickland pairing him with each soloist in a hip-hoppy dialogue that morphs into ensemble swing after each solo.
Eddie Allen’s Aggregation band plays at Zinc on August 6, Lyndhurst Estate on August 7 and SideDoor on August 9.
Coming next: Progression by Opus 5
Marcus Printup: Heart’s Desire
by Ken Dryden
Marcus Printup has been a critical favorite since his debut as a leader, Song for a Beautiful Woman, heralded for his skillful, innovative composing and arranging, along with his considerable chops.
Printup was surrounded by music in his home in Conyers GA. “My parents raised me in the black Baptist church,” he explained. “There was always singing around us. I was too shy to sing, though I started playing trumpet in fifth grade. I was never serious about practicing; I played sports. My band director, David Hudson, introduced me to jazz. I knew it was beyond the marching band music or symphonic music we were playing. There was something deep in his soul every time he played. I got into jazz as a college freshman and never turned back.”
Printup began at Georgia State University then transferred to the University of North Florida with a music scholarship in 1988, which opened many doors for him, especially its exceptional artist-in-residence program through which Marcus Roberts heard the trumpeter playing in a small combo.
“He liked what he heard but knew I was very raw. He sent someone to find me and we played for two to three hours,” he recalls. “Marcus told me the greatest thing anyone has said to me about my playing: ‘I can tell you have some natural talent, but that you don’t practice. If you don’t apply yourself, you won’t get far in this business. You won’t excel as a great musician unless you start to hone your skills.’
“I toured with him as his road manager for a year, then after his gigs, he would give me lessons, teaching me tunes, voicings and chords,” Printup said of the pianist. “Marcus introduced me to Wynton Marsalis and I joined the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which I’ve been in for 21 years.”
The trumpeter has nothing but praise for Marsalis: “I’ve played under many bandleaders, but Wynton knows everything going on with the orchestra. It keeps me elevated. He finds time to practice and talk about music in spite of how busy he is. He’s humble and will ask us questions about music.”
Printup credits singer Betty Carter as an important mentor, too, especially for her invitation for the young man to join her new jazz education program, Jazz Ahead. “Betty went to clubs to hear young musicians and would hand pick 30 or so from across the country, fly them to New York, rehearse them for a week and then do a concert. She heard me at an Iridium jam session and introduced herself, inviting me to Jazz Ahead. I met Reuben Rogers, Adonis Rose, Jacky Terrasson, Cyrus Chestnut and Greg Hutchinson,” he says. “She gave us lessons and chose me to do a ballad feature with her, ‘The Nearness of You.’ It wasn’t recorded but she mentioned our duet together in a bio of her, which made me feel very special.”
Printup and his wife Riza met through a fellow Conyers native who read the trumpeter’s bio in the program to a LCJO concert in Chicago. He asked his mother about Printup who knew the trumpeter and was a friend as well as office coworker of Riza, and she set them up on a blind dinner date. Riza, a classically trained harpist, went with reservations, but the two of them ended up playing duo piano at the Intercontinental Hotel for several hours into the night.
“We started playing together right away. She went to Indiana University and studied with David Baker. When we got together, she really started to blossom,” Printup said. “Now, she’s busy writing arrangements.”
On the trumpeter’s CD, Desire, featuring Riza with bassist Ben Williams and drummer E. J. Strickland, Printup wanted to find another way to use the harp. “On our first CD together I wrote out some parts for my wife on a few tunes. She was more prominently featured on A Time for Love, a trio with bass. But there was no pulse without drums and I wanted to get her in a format more like a small group setting so we could play more modern compositions. I wrote some music and she composed three songs. The melody to ‘Desire’ came to me when I was playing in a jazz series at the Rubin Museum. I saw a painting with a man and woman disrobed in an embrace and I could tell that they desired one another. It’s a very sexy song.”
His next CD, Lost, is due out this fall. The title track honors his father, who passed away in February.
The Marcus and Riza Printup Quartet will celebrate the release of Desire with Jerome Jennings on drums and Joe Sanders on bass at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on August 6 and 7.
Coming next: Learn how Craig Handy and his band bring their audience to their feet with the New Orleans street rhythms!