Marvin Stamm is probably one of the more accomplished trumpet and flugelhorn players that you probably never heard of before.
Stamm was born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 23, 1939, and first began playing trumpet at the tender age of 12. He graduated from North Texas State University in 1961 and began a career that is the stuff legends are made of.
Upon graduation from college, he immediately went to work for the legendary Stan Kenton as jazz trumpet soloist in Kenton’s orchestra. After his stint with Kenton ended, he performed (either live or on recordings) with some of the most popular performers of the era, including Thad Jones, Bill Evans, Bob Mintzer, Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand, Louis Bellson, Paul Desmond, Stanly Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Lena Horn, and others.
Factoid: According to Feather & Gitler, writing in “The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz,” Stamm had featured solos on both Paul McCartney’s classic “Uncle Albert” and Carly Simon’s “Wee Small Hours.”
When he is not touring, Stamm travels to colleges and high schools around the world, helping young music students develop their talents.
Over the years, Stamm has released comparatively few albums under his own name. The one I wish to discuss tonight was his third such album, the 1991 release “Bop Boy.”
The personnel for “Bop Boy” are:
Marvin Stamm, trumpet and flugelhorn
Bob Mintzer, tenor sax
Phil Markowitz, piano
Lincoln Goines, bass
Terry Clarke, drums
“Bop Boy” presents us with 10 songs, including four from special guest Bob Mintzer and one from pianist Phil Markowitz. Up first is “Re-Union,” one of Mintzer’s contributions. After a quiet intro, “Re-Union” transforms into a lively bop piece that gives each member of the band ample time to musically introduce himself.
Following “Re-Union” is a song with one of the oddest names, Kenny Wheeler’s “E.B.S.B.M.O.” Besides the enigma of the title, this is also the longest song on the disk, running a bit over eight minutes. It opens with Markowitz quietly fingering the keys until Stamm’s trumpet comes in and takes the lead. Clarke and Goines are mostly in the background throughout, and it sounds as though Mintzer may have stepped out for coffee while the rest of the guys recorded this one.
“Zoom,” another tune from Bob Mintzer, is next. It begins quietly, but soon enough the tempo picks up and we find ourselves listening to a nicely upbeat piece of bop. For a while the pace becomes almost frenetic, with Stamm showing us his reputation on the horn is justly deserved. Mintzer and Markowitz are also both standouts on this one.
Normally I personally would find it hard to resist a song with the title “Lunatic,” because… well, never mind the ‘because.’ J The song “Lunatic” we have here is yet another of Bob Mintzer’s creations. The head is fairly calm, like the others we’ve had so far, and Mintzer himself has the lead for a good bit of the song. Then he steps back and Stamm takes over until just before the end. This is certainly a different sort of song, and that is not really a bad thing.
Next we have “Svensson,” written by Swedish jazz pianist Lars Jansson and presumably an homage to his fellow countryman (and jazz pianist), Esbjorn Svensson. The song “Svensson” opens quietly with Markowitz soloing lightly on the piano. The rest of the group slowly joins in until Stamm comes forward to assert the lead. Eventually the pace picks up some, but the song never does reach barn-burner status. Even so, this is a nice song that gives each of the musicians liberal ear time, so to speak.
I am running terribly late this week, as usual, so I’m going to skip ahead to the title track, “Bop Boy,” which is, yes, still another Bob Mintzer construct. This one is a livelier, more bopish (I know, there is no such word) piece than “Svensson” was. Mintzer is a sax player with few equals, and he was definitely in fine form the day they recorded this. When Stamm takes the lead, he once again shows us why he is one of the most in-demand trumpet players in jazz. Markowitz and Goines do a nice duo together. Clarke is mostly in the background beating the crap out of his kit, although he is occasionally allowed to take the lead for a few seconds here and there.
“Bop Boy” closes with a song from pianist Markowitz, “May Moon.” This is a nice song, given a slightly samba feel at first by Clarke’s drums behind Stamm’s trumpet. Mintzer joins Stamm for a moment in the lead, then steps back, leaving Stamm and Markowitz to carry it for a while, backed by Clarke. Then Stamm briefly puts down his horn and the Clarke and Goines run with it for a short time before Stamm and Mintzer both return.
All-in-all, “Bop Boy” is a superb album, one that I deeply regret I did not play more of during my 8 ½ years hosting “Saturday Night Jazz” on KMHD. Despite that, it’s an album I am sure you will find a great addition to your own personal playlist, for a Saturday or any other night!
To learn more about Marvin Stamm and his music, visit his web site.
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