Eric Berlin, trumpet
Vingettes for trumpet and percussion – James M. Stephenson III
Concerto Piccolo for trumpet and electronics – Charles Bestor
The End of the Matter for trumpet, vibraphone, and marimba – Salvatore Macchia
Elegy for trumpet, vibraphone and marimba, alto and baritone saxes – Michael Ellison
Street Jam for trumpet and bongos – Evan Hause
Sonata for trumpet and piano – Robert J. Bradshaw.
Eduardo Leandro, percussion; Lynn Klock, saxophones; Nadine Shank, piano.
Each piece on this disc received its premiere performance by Eric Berlin and this collection of pieces speaks to Mr. Berlin’s flexibility of technique and comfort level with a wide variety of styles. Each work has its own demands, strengths, and pitfalls. Mr. Berlin and all of the performers on the CD have put together an incredibly strong and compelling program. The Vingettes by James M. Stephenson III is a strong opener for the disc. Each of the seven brief movements fixate on a limited soundworld in both trumpet and percussion parts. Most often, the percussionist is limited to a single instrument. The end result is an energizing kaleidoscope of musical potential. I love this piece. It makes me want to compose!
Charles Bestor’s Concerto Piccolo is, as one might guess, a brief work. During the ten minutes, the live trumpet soars through most of the piece while the electronic accompaniment slides through various manipulations of the trumpet’s sound. The general tone of the work is ambient, with some diversions into more driving rhythmic territory. Some of the manipulated sounds seem a little too close to cheesy synth copies of the actual instrument but the composer does a fine job orchestrating in and out of the ghost versions of the trumpet.
The End of the Matter is a cyclic arch dialog between the trumpet and the mallet instruments. The melodic materials in the trumpet part are sinuous, sustaining a longer dramatic structure. The vibes and marimba parts provide great punctuations as the piece unfolds. Ideas, timbres, and texture revolve through the work without ever seeming repetitive or meandering.
The short Elegy for trumpet, saxes, and mallets, is an excellent outgrowth from the sound world of The End of the Matter. This somber work emerges from the dying sounds of the previous piece and, on first listening, I thought it was another section of Macchia’s composition. The saxophones provide excellent lyrical and contrapuntal contrast to the trumpet line. While this piece does feature the trumpet rather prominently at times, it really is a chamber piece with equal interest on all parts.
Evan Hause’s Street Jam is a delightfully crisp and punchy work. The two forces, trumpet and bongos, work together at times, against each other at times, and upstage each other at times. The title is a perfect visual image to put with the music. Hause has captured wonderful energy and drive in this piece. Both performers really throw down, too!
The Sonata by Robert J. Bradshaw could be considered the most conventional work on the CD being the only “sonata” and the only work for trumpet and piano. The four movements of the piece follow the typical sonata plan, each filled with a lush sense of harmony and a lyrical sense for melodic writing. The faster movements contain plenty of sparkle and drive in addition to the pervasive lyricism. This work was recorded in a different setting than the others on the disc, which puts the piece in its own aural world separate from the others pieces. That might be bothersome for some listeners, but the piece and the performance are quite strong.