Long time ago, back in the days of JazzCharlotte, a British PR agent gushed over the talent of trumpeter Scotty Barnhart and gave me a bootleg cassette tape to bolster her boasts. She was right about Barnhart, who was even more electrifying when he performed here live than he was on the shabby bootleg.
Now theres finally a Scotty Barnhart CD for the world to hear, Say It Plain, and I feel like Im divulging a secret that shouldnt have been secret nearly so long. The lineup of guest artists who showed up for these 2008 recording dates topped by cameos from fellow trumpet aces Clark Terry and Wynton Marsalis is an accurate gauge of the high-grade straight-ahead jazz youll hear throughout. Keyboard giants Marcus Roberts and Ellis Marsalis also show up separately on five of the 12 tracks, Ellis at his silky best on the Jimmy Dorsey ballad, Im Glad There Is You, Roberts most memorable on The Burning Sands, one of five Barnhart originals.
Wynton joins Scotty on Dizzy Gillespies Con Alma, while Terry blows and sings in his trademark mumbledy fashion on the closing track, Pay Me My Money, a freshly-minted Clark/Barnhart tune. Unity Music stablemate Jamie Davis drops in for Young at Heart, mellow payback for Barnharts contributions to the singers Vibe Over Perfection last year.
All it takes is a few bars of Giant Steps to be hooked on this release as Leon Anderson, Jr., opens up on drums and a refs whistle. Barnhart comes in on trumpet with Todd Williams overlapping on soprano sax, and suddenly you realize that Scotty has rearranged Tranes hardbop classic into a festive New Orleans shuffle with Roberts applying another twist later on with a stride piano solo. Occasionally, you do get samplings of what Barnharts core quartet/quintet sounds like. A taste of Put On a Happy Face provides all the joyous reassurance you need, with Barnhart blazing and pianist Bill Peterson sounding a little like Oscar.
None other than the esteemed Stanley Crouch pontificates in the album notes, and theres a celebration of the new Say It Plain release up in New York this Saturday evening at the renowned Blue Note Jazz Club, where Barnharts quintet is scheduled to make joyful noises at midnight. Yes, it seems Barnhart has arrived. I damn sure hope he stays.
Heres a video of Haleys Passage in a longer, less artfully mixed version than youll hear on the CD, but with the same sextet: Scotty Barnhart (flumpet), Todd Williams (soprano sax), Rick Lollar (guitar), Bill Peterson (piano), Leon Anderson, Jr. (drums), and Rodney Jordan (bass). Camera works sucks you never get a good look at Scottys flumpet but the music is golden.