MIKE JOYCE - The Washington Post
Friday, September 11, 1998 ; Page N16

Brace yourself. Vaughn Nark is the sort of jazz trumpeter for whom not even the sky is the limit. When his horn soars above double C on his new album, as it often does with exacting precision and blazing flourish, the notes seem Heaven-bound, so much so that perhaps even the trumpet-toting angel Gabriel may feel a slight twinge of envy.

In Nark's hands, the song is seldom the same. For instance, the album's opening track, "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," comes across as a brash wake-up call. Opening with a electrifying trumpet cadenza, the arrangement is booted along by a vigorous rhythm section (propelled by drummer Keith Killgo) and colored by Nark's deft doubling on valve trombone and Peter Fraize's full-throated tenor saxophone. Other surprises include "Fiesta Mojo," a Dizzy Gillespie romp during which Nark salutes (and liberally quotes from) the great trumpeter, and "Tanga," another Gillespie homage, this one shaded in subtle and soulful harmonies. Here and elsewhere, the performances are enhanced by several talented musicians, including saxophonist-flutist Tim Eyermann, saxophonist Saul Miller, pianist Fred Hughes, guitarist Rick Whitehead, bassist Tom Williams and percussionist Alfredo Mojica.

While "Somethin' Special" will certainly appeal to fans of Gillespie, as well as admirers of such high-flying trumpeters as Jon Faddis, Arturo Sandoval and Doc Severinsen, Nark also evokes memories of Chet Baker's introverted vocal style on a couple of ballads that provide him -- and us -- with a well-served breather.

Appearing Monday at Blues Alley.

To hear a free Sound Bite from Vaughn Nark, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)

Cutline: Jazz trumpeter Vaughn Nark's high notes will hit the heavens Monday when he blows into Blues Alley.

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