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Extended Play: New Roles for Trumpets

Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 15:10, July 1, 2010

Although the romantic image of a lone trumpeter has been standard in jazz since the time of Young Man with a Horn, musically it’s actually more difficult for a trumpet to be sole horn in a band — at least until freely improvised music rewrote the rules a few decades ago. The reason is simple: unlike the saxophone’s many keys which the soloist can manipulate for different timbres, the trumpet has only three valves and a length of tubing. Brass players thus most often work with a reed partner or as part of an ensemble. However these CDs, featuring mostly Canadian casts, show that notable sessions can appear no matter the instrumental make up. (…)

Ex-Torontonian, now Montréaler, trumpeter Gordon Allen plus saxophonists Jean Derome and Philippe Lauzier take an equally standard role as backing horn section on Montréal band Klaxon Gueule’s Infininiment Ambiances Magnétiques AM 194 CD. Throughout the 13 minimalist tunes the horns extend or amplify improvisations from the band’s core trio — guitarist Bernard Falaise, bassist Alexandre St-Onge and percussionist Michel F Côté. Concerned as much with mood and texture as melody, the scene-setting arrangements frequently find single horn parts providing brief commentary on Falaise’s popping guitar licks, St-Onge’s pulsating rhythms or the knitting-needle-like clatter of Côté’s delicate drumming. The bass line serves as a pedal point drone on Momo pèle, for instance, which fades away following dissociated drum beats, but not before Allen has pumped out bugle-like reveille. In contrast singular note extensions from one saxophone plus chromatic mellow timbres from the trumpeter inflate from distanced peeps to provide a counterweight to dissonant guitar-string snaps and abrasive strums on Brown suinte. (…)

Throughout the 13 minimalist tunes the horns extend or amplify improvisations from the band’s core trio

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