Piano trio, sure. But trumpet trio? Now there's a musical configuration you don't see often.
But that was the setup Thursday at the Club Brasserie in West Hollywood's Bel Age Hotel, at least for the first few numbers, when trumpeter Marcus Printup's quartet opened a scheduled three-day run. With pianist Billy Childs arriving late from another performance, Printup began without the harmonically supportive accompaniment of a piano.
The short absence worked in his favor. Backed only by bassist Darek Oles and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Printup put on a magical display that confirms he stands among the next generation's best trumpeters.
Printup--a 31-year-old Georgia native who records for Blue Note (his latest, a tribute to Freddie Hubbard, is co-led by fellow trumpeter Tim Hagans)--has gained much visibility through his affiliation with Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He moved from New York to Los Angeles in November and has since appeared locally with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, among others.
His performance Thursday proved him to be a musician of uncommon communication and emotion, confident without being brash, technically accomplished without being cold. On both ballads and up-tempo tunes, he captivated with exceptionally flowing and inventive play.
Working without the piano, Printup lavished attention on the familiar lines of Milt Jackson's anthem "Bags' Groove" and Sonny Rollins' hot bop theme "Oleo," then, with long, circling phrases and sharply cut accents, created improvisations that read like a good book.
Childs arrived halfway through Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," interrupting an amazingly athletic solo from Hutchinson (another Marsalis associate who recently relocated to L.A.). His astute accompaniment and personality-rich solos added a new dimension, spurring Printup to make even more involved statements, most notably during John Coltrane's "Equinox." Both Printup and Hutchinson are world-class additions to the Los Angeles scene.
* The Marcus Printup Quartet plays the Club Brasserie, Wyndham Bel Age Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood; tonight at 9 and 11. No cover. (310) 358-7776.