Thanks to all who listened to last Thursday’s track and to those who ventured a guess. Nobody guessed who this trumpet player is so…the winner of the twenty-first edition of the Outside Pants Guess The Trumpet Player contest is…….no one!
And the correct answer is….Cuong Vu. And this tune is the title track off of Vu’s latest record “Leaps of Faith.” Now when I posted this track I knew that some people were going to dig it and others were going to find it a little hard on the ears. From the responses that I received, that turned out to be pretty much right on. Since Vu came out with his 2000 debut album as a leader, “Bound” (Omnitone), he’s been documenting an ever-developing sound, one that involves a whole lot of texture. He uses lots of delay and reverb and sometimes some distortion. But really it’s his ability to create his own natural effects that makes him unique. He plays with a dry, flat sound with no vibrato when he uses a “straight” sound; and he has a huge arsenal of splatty sounds, gurgles, choke-tunes, and split buzzes (something I’d really love to learn how to do – ever heard Peter Evans do this? Ridiculous!). Vu uses these sounds to develop and highlight his melodic themes, many of which evolve into grand, almost epic statements. He’s not playing bebop – or jazz even. Chord changes are not the focus. His music has a pop sensibility but it’s steeped in some avant-garde music too. But really it’s just sound and noise. Melody and rhythm are important, but for me, Vu’s sound and approach to the trumpet is what makes him unique.