Review by Brad Walseth
"Wakefulness" is one of those rare recordings that leaps out of the speakers and grabs you by the ear. Not that this is an in-your-face recording of bombastic piano, but Trompeter - former keyboardist for Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine does bedazzle with his artistry on the keys. A practicing Buddhist, the placidity and balance of Trompeter's inner being shines forth through his adept and sparkling fingerwork.
A wide ranging and quite satisfying mixture of tunes range from piano trio settings with bassist Eric Hochberg and drummer Mike Raynor to piano and synthesizer led settings featuring horns (including Orbert Davis) and guitar (Fareed Haque). Compelling covers of tunes like John Coltrane's "26-2," Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean," Harold Arlen's "It's Only a Paper Moon" and Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" seamlessly transition into originals, with the common denominators being the intelligent and graceful piano playing, the mature and interesting arrangements and the empathetic support of the players.
Two highlights include the percussion-driven, Danilo Perez-inspired "Quatrosh" - which makes one hope Trompeter will mine similar veins in the future, and the incredibly beautiful "The First Tee," which evokes the dew-laden grass, birdcalls and early morning skies of the golf enthusiast with aplomb. "Dharma John," meanwhile ends the album with the calm of the Buddhist state of wakefulness and the ascending spirit of Andy Snitzer's soprano sax. Piano jazz fans take note: this is a pianist ready to spring forward into the spotlight with this stellar release.
Review by Brad Walseth
"Pianist Trompeter shows another side of his prodigious talents with this sizzling set recorded at Chicago's beloved Green Mill Lounge. Featuring a top-notch cast including: Ralph Bowen on tenor sax, John Swana on trumpet, and a ferocious rhythm section of Dennis Carroll on bass and Dana Hall on drums, Trompeter leads a knock-down, drag-out session that covers well-worn standards like "Invitation," "Stella by Starlight" and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," along with Herbie Hancock's "Driftin'," and Joe Henderson's "The Kicker." Strangely, the set features none of Trompeter's own wonderful original songs, but Bowen pitches in with two tunes and Swana adds one.
This CD is mostly burning hot straight-ahead jazz, and there's nothing wrong with that. Trompeter has appeared often on the Green Mill stage and he and his compatriots sound completely at home here. Hearing a great group of musicians taking no prisoners on tunes like Bowen's "The First Stone," "Invitation" and "The Kicker is always a thrill, and all musicians perform admirably.
Trompeter is especially noted for his ability to play with sensitivity and imagination (check out his unique inversions throughout), and he is really in his element on the quieter pieces like "Stella" (ok, not that quiet), Swana's "Sweet Sadness" and his duet piece, "Polka Dots" (with Bowen). A killer Bowen original ("Soul Proprietor") ends things with such fire that Capone can probably hear Bowen's angular shrieking tenor and Dana Hall's powerhouse drumming in his old haunt from wherever he's at. Another fine recording from a pianist clearly on the rise."