NARK, BLOWING AUDIENCE AWAY
MIKE JOYCE - The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 16, 1998 ; Page D02
When trumpeter Vaughn Nark stepped onstage at Blues Alley
Monday night, he joked that some patrons near the stage might
want to move to another table if they valued their hearing.
Or maybe he wasn't joking. Surrounded by a fine cast of Washington-based
musicians, Nark revealed the full range and power of his trumpet
by punctuating nearly all of the arrangements with octave-leaping,
A veteran big-band lead trumpeter, Nark has extraordinary
technique and clearly enjoys displaying it. Blistering bebop
lines, crackling Afro-Cuban rhythms and the brash tonal colors
associated with fusion jazz marked the opening set, with Nark
often alluding to his primary influence, the late Dizzy Gillespie,
as a source of material and inspiration.
Indeed, none of the tunes demonstrated the ensemble's impressive
drive and resourcefulness more vividly than Gillespie's "Fiesta
Mojo" and "Tanga." Both tunes blossomed into festive arrangements
showcasing Nark's fulgent horn and the vibrant support of his
band mates. Doubling on flute and saxophones, Tim Eyermann played
Nark's nimble foil throughout the evening -- that is, when he
wasn't busy forging a robust tenor sax tandem with Peter Fraize.
The mostly familiar melodies were also freshened by keyboardist
Fred Hughes, guitarist Rick Whitehead and bassist Tom Williams,
while drummer Keith Killgo balanced a vigorous polyrhythmic
attack with an unfussy swing pulse.
Although the band's sonic assault seemed out of sync with
the contemplative allure of "My Funny Valentine," the balance
of the performance, which included an appropriately subdued
tribute to Chet Baker, colorfully illustrated the ensemble's
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