Darren Barrett's Time For Romance - But Beautiful

Label: dB Studios, 2018

Personnel – Darren Barrett: trumpet, vocals; Takeru Saito: piano; Santiago Bosch: keyboards, synth; Youngchae Jeong: bass; Daniel Moreno: drums; Judy Barrett: percussion + guest Kurt Rosenwinkel: electric guitar.


On his new album with the Time For Romance band, Canadian trumpet player Darren Barrett shows an enormous respect for jazz tradition, devoting himself to pure melody and transforming eight classic ballads to be firmly fit in the present. Sporadically, we can sense the same innovative, futuristic vibes that made The Opener, his previous album, an unexpected phenomenon of the contemporary jazz. These are mirrored in tunes like “Everything Happens To Me”, where we find him flirting with hip-hop rhythms and dubstep synthesis while reeling off bop-inflected phrases with long-held notes; and “The Touch Of Your Lips”, here designed with a flamboyant Afro-Latin rhythm and tasteful sound effects while upholding the warm, mellow tone reminiscent of Chet Baker.

The passionate guitar of Kurt Rosenwinkel (playing the intro all alone) lights Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” before the invasion of a percolating Latin rhythm emphasized by the presence of percussionist Judith Barrett. The bandleader improvises with soul, having Santiago Bosch’s synth ‘disturbances’ rolling sporadically in the back. In that way, he is even more persuasive on the wonderfully sedative “Invitation” as well as on “But Beautiful”, in which he has the company of Japanese pianist Takeru Saito as a featured soloist. Both pieces have the foundation builders - bassist Youngchae Jeong and drummer Daniel Moreno - holding on their function of timekeepers.

Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” was subjected to a laid-back treatment in order to get an inebriating feel without losing its original soul-jazz flair. It opposes to Benny Golson’s “Ugly Beauty”, which is not so interesting in terms of texture.

The album closes with “Every Time We Say Goodbye”, which conforms to the romantic direction with a somewhat cheesy dedication to all the lovers. Besides adding organic sounds to it, Barrett sings the song.

These re-imaginations of ballads chosen from the Great American Songbook don’t have the powerful impact of Barrett’s last year’s originals. That wasn’t expected since the nature of the music is very different. However, and despite making us enjoy immortal melodies, the instrumentation and modernistic garnishes of But Beautiful, didn’t captivate me as much as I would have liked.

Grade  C

Grade C

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Invitation ► 06 - But Beautiful ► 07 - Everything Happens To Me

Darren Barrett's dB-ish - The Opener

Label/Year: dB Studios, 2017

Lineup – Darren Barrett: trumpet; Clay Lyons: saxophone; Erena Terakubo: saxophone; Santiago Bosch: piano, keyboards; Alexander Toth: bass; Anthony Toth: drums; Judith Barrett: percussion; Chad Selph: keyboards + guests Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar; Nir Felder: guitar.

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With his dB-ish project, Canadian trumpeter Darren Barrett excavates voguish ground by merging different styles such as post-bop and hip-hop with a nice, cool touch, and then spicing it with the addition of electronic samples and other valuable soundscapes.

Barrett’s music background includes a graduation at Berklee College of Music and the first place in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, as well as enriching collaborations with the likes of Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, and Roy Hargrove, just to name a few.

For his new outing, dB-ish: The Opener, the trumpet ace invited American guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Nir Felder to participate in one track each, joining an impressive band that features Clay Lyons and Erena Terakubo on saxophone, Santiago Bosch on piano and keyboards, Alexander Toth on bass, Anthony Toth on drums, Judith Barrett on percussion, and Chad Selph on keyboards.

The Opener” is where rhythmic hip-hop invention meets luxurious post-bop with strong modal accents and a crisp usage of sampling techniques. Barrett, who shows all his impetuousness every time he puts his horn to his mouth, delivers elastic phrases surrounded by delay effect, and is well accompanied in terms of improvisations by Bosch and Rosenwinkel. The latter, resorting to an affirmative synth guitar sound, expatiates on effervescent melodic escalation.
The lucid jazz-hop of “Beauty on Beauty” sounds invigoratingly beautiful in its melodious and superiorly articulated trumpet incursions, which gains an impish sound effect in the chorus, section that also scintillates with the riffscape of a saxophone.
Even if there’s a vibrant inner energy constantly bubbling underneath the surface, you’ll find several other occasions to chill out throughout the session. Examples are the reflective “Don’t You Know I Love You”, and the slightly more avid “Db-Lemma”.

Different” mixes a self-assertive urban vibe with off-kilter rhythms that seem to fit between Brazilian samba and African lilt. The invitation to the dance floor is imposed by Anthony Toth's dry snare thumps and swift hi-hat, yet this posture is occasionally curbed by a more traditional jazz approach during the improvisations.

One of the highest peaks on the album happens on “To Conversate”, a piece that thrives with amazing collective timing and synchronization, as well as incredibly dynamic solos by the bandleader and then Felder, whose expressive six-string flux stirs up the groove.

Following the examples of fellow trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Marquis Hill, who also strive to push boundaries, Darren Barrett shows no fear of agitating style conventions through bold ideas. The scrumptiously groovecentric dB-ish: The Opener provides a gut punch of originality in its no-nonsense conception. Open mind, open ears, open style, open world… the future of jazz might well reside here!

        Grade  A

        Grade A

Favorite Tracks:
01 - The Opener ► 02 - Beauty on Beauty ► 06 - To Conversate