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 Openerprovides 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!
01 – The Opener ► 02 – Beauty on Beauty ► 06 – To Conversate