The Texas Trumpets

The Texas Trumpets

This one's a groove thang. Except for the fact that four trumpets replace a full horn section, it recalls the classic black show bands that began with post-war jump-blues combos and ended with the breakup of James Brown's early-seventies funk powerhouse. Back then, blues and R&B musicians had to be able to play jazz (often doing so during warm-up numbers before the star came on), and jazzmen needed blues and R&B chops, if only to get session work. The résumés of Austin trumpeters Martin Banks, Ephraim Owens, Pat Patterson, and Donald Jennings include stints with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Etta James, and Joe Tex, so they've got the bases covered. And the Eastside Band—especially Larry D.C. Williams, who plays organ and provides horn arrangements, and guitarist Clarence Pierce, who usually fills in the holes but steps out fiercely on "Hully Gully Twist"—is razor-sharp on any rhythm the frontmen need. The Texas Trumpets opens with "JB Into," with Owens taking one of his charging solos over a James Brown rhythm figure, and ends with "JB Out," with each of the four stepping out. In between are down-home blues ("Rebecca, Rebecca," with Patterson singing and Owens blowing sweet and sad), the buoyant "Paige 'N T.C.," some instrumental vamps that sound like live-set intros or outros ("One Night Stand"), a killer shuffle of a B. B. King medley, and even a lilting romp with sonorous harmonies that echoes the classic Chicano R&B of early-sixties San Antonio ("Sassy"). Williams' horn charts are never dull. When the four play together, they riff hard; as soloists, Banks is punchy and Jennings saucy, while Patterson employs a slippery, muted sound. And like Owens and the Eastside Band, they all shoot from the hip. by John Morthland

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