The slow grooves on Darren Barrett’s new album sparks an evening in Jamaica, a dance club in Soho, and a contemporary jazz jam running way past midnight in some forgotten ski resort.
Trumpet Vibes also features other well-known multicultural musicians such as American soul vibist Warren Wolf and French vibist Simon Moullier.
The self-produced album of lively covers and original cuts is Barrett’s seventh. It’s also an inventive blend of all his favorite styles of music, culled from his roots, a little reggae and ska, some Caribbean flavor, and straight-ahead jazz. The now Boston-based Barrett had always dreamed of bringing all that he is to light on a recording.
The trick to Barrett’s current music is his light, imaginative touch on familiar, beloved tunes like “To Sir With Love,” which starts off simply enough then deepens with the gentle additions of reggae and an infectious dance beat.
Nothing here is abrupt or a shock to the sense, but slow grown as if these eight originals and covers had always been his and his alone.
Better yet, Barrett allows plenty of room for the vibes to take precedence in the role of harmonic interest and mellifluous inflection, setting a clear mood of easing back and letting the music flow.
Barrett’s claim to fame is winning a Grammy (Esperanza Spalding’s 2012 Radio Music Society), as well as the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 1997. A huge fan of Miles Davis, the trumpeter studied in Berklee on a full scholarship and received much tutelage from the late Donald Byrd.
The opening track, “Fly Little Bird” with Wolf, is in fact Barrett’s tribute to his mentor.
Trumpet Vibes came out on Nov. 20, 2015. A little birdie predicts DownBeat and Jazziz plan to give rousing reviews.
Today, Barrett teaches ensembles and brass at the Berklee school he once attended in the late ‘80s. “I’m working on my craft, trying to be as professional and proficient as I can be,” Barrett said in his bio. “I’m just trying to reach people with my music, trying to concentrate on myself as a performer, bandleader, and composer. I have many different bands but they all give me the musical platform to pursue anything possible. I want to continue exploring music and the trumpet by being open to the gamut of creativity, incorporating electronics into live shows, and realizing that one must have a great product and a great live show. These are my key principles.”
Look for Darren Barrett’s next album to focus on an unlikely subject for his kind of playful, anything-goes jazz-fusion: Amy Winehouse.