Chris Gekker: Ghost Dialogues, Music for Trumpet

review brassB x1 cong

Gekker is professor of trumpet at the University of Maryland School of Music. He has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, and can be heard as such on more than 30 recordings. He’s also played with Sting. He’s good.

This CD features modern trumpet music, with work from composers Carson Cooman, David Heinick, Kevin McKee, Lance Hulme and Robert Gibson.

There’s not much point talking about the playing (world class) or the composing (ditto). What’s it like to listen to?

With so many composers, it’s clearly a varied listen. There are three pieces for trumpet with piano in traditional sonata-accompaniment style, songs with trumpet obbligato and two works for trumpet and tenor sax duo.

As a crude analysis, it’s either slow and haunting or more upbeat, almost melodic, with one section (to our ears) jarringly modern.

The opener is Robert Gibson’s Fall, a reflection on the autumn season. Bearing in mind it’s just trumpet and piano, it’s one of the closest to jazz, influenced by the Miles Davis Quintet. Imagine a trumpet solo but no band.

Lance Hulme supplies the title track, an atmospheric blend of tenor sax and trumpet, and again a Miles Davies feel in places, though more experimental in others.

Cooman contributes Equinox Sonata, which concentrates on the trumpet’s middle low register, blending in well with the piano. The first movement is joyful, the middle movement less so, in memory of a friend and incorporating a Scottish funeral rite.

The closing pieces, Served Two Ways and Song for a Friend, in memory of John Wacker, continue the atmospheric/haunting sounds of the earlier pieces. In places, especially McKee’s piece in memory of Wacker, it’s almost easy on the ear.

In between is the more challenging The Street Has Changed, which we found jarred with the rest – it’s edgier and features vocals (Clara O’Brien, mezzo soprano). We’ll just have to work harder at this one, though it’s not “challenging” for most of its run. An interesting album, a blend of jazz, film noir soundtrack, classical and ambient. Out on Metier, MSV 28572.


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