VAUGHN NARK: "FLYING HIGH"
MIKE JOYCE - The Washington Post
Friday, October 8, 1999 ; Page N19
"Flying High," the new album by trumpeter Vaughn
Nark, should be stamped with the following disclaimer: "Buckle
Up Before Playing." After all, Nark and the Airmen of Note
have quite a ride in store for fans of fiery and fulgent big
band charts laced with skyscraping trumpet solos.
A lifelong admirer of Dizzy Gillespie and a member of the Air
Force ensemble for 15 years, Nark possesses rare technique and
stamina. He's a master navigating the rarefied atmosphere above
double high C, as he often demonstrates here, beginning with
the album's opening track, "Lorraine." While he's
not always reaching for the stratosphere -- his fluegelhorn
playing on the Freddie Hubbard ballad "Brigitte" quickly
reveals his more soulful side -- there's no shortage of nosebleed
excursions that would leave most trumpeters gasping for air
or looking for another gig.
Even so, Nark's performances on "Flying High" don't
come off sounding like exercises in idle virtuosity. Mike Crotty,
who arranged most of the music, has fashioned a series of big
band charts that fully exploit the Airmen of Note's considerable
resources. As a result, the treatments of "Red Clay,"
"Con Alma," "It Could Happen to You" and
other pop and jazz standards spread out the sonic pleasures
by accommodating several talented soloists and showcasing the
ensemble's vitality and warmth.
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