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JAZZ REVIEWS : Printup's Carving Out Own Identity

November 03, 1995|BILL KOHLHAASE

Here's the problem for the current crop of aspiring young trumpeters. How do you stand out from the crowd?

Trumpeter Marcus Printup, opening a two-night stand at the Jazz Bakery on Wednesday, found the obvious answer: sound like no one else.

Though cast in the same post-bop mold as most of his contemporaries, Printup plays without the acrobatics of Roy Hargrove, the down-home rootsiness of Nicholas Payton or the bravado of Wynton Marsalis. While his trumpet playing and composing generally look to the '60s for their inspiration, they use that period only as a point of departure. Printup may hint at such trumpeters as Lee Morgan and Kenny Dorham, but he doesn't copy them.

Instead, the 28-year-old member of Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra asserted his own personality with involved lines that came primarily from the middle range of his instrument. He didn't rely on gratuitous high-notes, excess passion or the kind of signature embellishments that once marked the work of a young Freddie Hubbard. His attack remained reasonable, even at its most driven.

Working from his recent, first solo release, Printup also showed himself to be a considered composer, one eager to move beyond current retro infatuations. Tunes including "Inquiry," "Song for the Beautiful Woman" and the agitated "Trauma" mark him as a writer with a fine, varied sense of theme. Printup also applied personal touches to "I Remember April," "Speak Low" and John Coltrane's "Dahomey Dance," working in agile, if not lyrical, style.

The trumpeter's strongly rhythmic approach was abetted by his bandmates. Ambitiously detailed improvisations from pianist Eric Reed were both technically and emotionally dense. Robert Hurst showed the melodic and rhythmic smarts of fellow bassist Ray Brown as he soloed. Ubiquitous drummer Willie Jones III brought polyrhythms and crispness to his timekeeping.

Printup's trumpet is not yet a singular voice. But his attempts to establish a character of his own, without falling too darkly into the shadow of any other trumpeter, marks him as a promising talent.

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