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JAZZ | * JAZZ REVIEW

Important, Emerging Trumpeters Printup, Hagans Pay a Tribute to Freddie Hubbard

January 15, 1998|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Can two talented jazz trumpeters find success working side by side? The answer, in the case of the performance by Tim Hagans and Marcus Printup at the Jazz Bakery Tuesday night, was "yes" and "no."

Hagans and Printup are two of the most gifted trumpeters to emerge on the scene in the '90s. Hagans is actually a veteran sideman, with a work resume that includes gigs with everyone from Dexter Gordon and Thad Jones to Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. And Printup has performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Marcus Roberts "Rhapsody in Blue" ensemble.

So why put them together in the front line of a quintet? In part for simple expediency. Their duet album, "Hubsongs," which features the music of Freddie Hubbard, is being released this week, and the six-night run at the Jazz Bakery is part of a national tour to promote the album.

Nothing wrong with that, since neither Printup nor Hagans has yet to step up to a high enough level of visibility to draw large audiences on their own. Despite their relative unfamiliarity, however, the most successful part of the opening night set was largely centered on their individual playing. Each revealed himself to be a superb technician, fluently articulate, bursting with improvisatory imagination.

Printup was especially intense in a fiery set of choruses on "Backlash," and Hagans--often favoring angular dissonances in his other solos--sounded warm and lyrical on the standard ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is." The local rhythm section accompanying the duo--pianist Billy Childs, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Joe LaBarbera--laid down a firm carpet of support. And Childs, a powerful soloist and compositionally oriented improviser (and a veteran of Hubbard's own bands), contributed a series of attractive choruses, notably on Hubbard's most familiar line, "Up Jumped Spring."

But the fact that the music was so solo-oriented underscored its less successful quality--a lack of color and variety. Neither Hagans nor Printup ever used a mute, despite the fact that much of the written music and many of the solos would have benefited from the timbral contrast that the many different kinds of trumpet mutes might have provided. Nor was there any real sense of interaction between the two players in the form of challenging exchanges or spontaneous, improvised dueting.

Still, Hagans and Printup are important, emerging players, well worth hearing at this still-evolving stage in their music. Given a few more sets with their still-unfamiliar accompanists, they may well come up with some intriguing musical interaction.

BE THERE

Marcus Printup and Tim Hagans with the Billy Childs Trio at the Jazz Bakery through Sunday. 3233 Helms Ave. (310) 271-9039. $18 admission tonight at 8:30 and 10, and Sunday at 6 and 8 p.m. $20 admission Friday and Saturday at 8:30 and 10 p.m.

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