Hugh Ragin Trumpet Ensemble with special guest artist Clark Terry, Fanfare & Fiesta

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Like the World Saxophone Quartet in brass.

Ragin's stylistic breadth is evidenced by the fact that this disc is profoundly influenced by both the swing-bop master elder Clark Terry and the avant-garde satirical jester Lester Bowie. Terry guests on flugelhorn trading phrases with a quartet of trumpets on “Finger Filibuster,” which sounds like Count Basie on acid. Terry also blows his flugel and mugs, mumbles and scats his way through his “Spaceman,” which sounds like Sun Ra in a TV sitcom. There are two Bowie numbers, a not-that-chaotic “Barnyard Scuffel Shuffel,” and an ethereal “How Strange,” though Ragin's own Art Ensemble of Chicago-ish “Harmonic Architecture” and skewed-but-stately “A Prayer for Lester Bowie” invoke the late trumpeter just as vividly. Backed by a three-piece rhythm section (a pair from James Carter's breakthrough ensemble), this is like the World Saxophone Quartet in brass — daring and delightfully unpredictable in both its rigorous scholarship and spontaneous combustion.