Vince Tampio is a Philadelphian multi-instrumentalist and educator whose website says he’s firmly rooted in jazz but also ‘comfortable with a wide variety of genres including rock, soul, funk, folk, classical, and electronic.’ As if this weren’t covering enough bases already, Adult Children (on which Tampio plays trumpet, guitar and bass) is described as an ‘instrumental jazz fusion album informed by hard bop and Highlife’, ‘featuring Latin percussion and layered guitar accompaniment’. Elsewhere in the publicity material the album is ‘Recommended If You Like Miles Davis, John Scofield and Wes Montgomery’. Phew, that’s a lot of influences, so what are we to make of it all?
For me at least, it’s a restless beast of an album that prowls the borderlands between jazz and rock – in a good way. In a way that’s funky, guitar- and percussion-heavy and groove-laden, but still melodically cohesive thanks to Tampio’s trumpet. And here it’s interesting to dive into how the album was conceived and again the website comes to the rescue: ‘Adult Children started as an assortment of collectively improvised grooves involving bass and percussion. The resulting recording session was divided into distinct tracks, each organized into tangible musical forms. From there, harmonic accompaniment was applied and melodies were composed.’
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A definite Miles Davis influence, then. Think of In a Silent Way and how its producer Teo Macero assembled the final recording from three hours of loose improvisation. The results on Adult Children are equally polished, the only vestiges of its assemblage origins being occasional muted studio talking and laughter on some of the intros and outros, rather like what you hear on studio outtakes. But they add to the music’s charm, the feeling that this is a bunch of guys having fun.
There’s also a strong hint of Miles on the music itself: Cardinal Blues has the funkiness of electric period Miles (think Bitches Brew or On the Corner) and the funkier outings of other Miles-influenced trumpeters such as Eric Truffaz or Nils Petter Molvær. But there are tantalising glimpses of other influences too: hints of mid- to late-period King Crimson in the muscular guitar opening to Career Cheerleader that morphs into Latin-tinged percussion; dub reggae in the sinuous bass line, jangly processed guitar and syncopated drumming of Smug Fit; David Torn (or King Crimson again) in the snarly, smeary guitar on Vapid Transit; and soaring guitar on the opening of The Tontin that’s a dead ringer for Terje Rypdal.
That’s a lot of guitarists to be reminded of, so I wasn’t too surprised to discover that Tampio is joined by two other guitarists, Joe Heider and Drew Parker. Nor was I surprised that Tampio’s bass playing is supplemented by a second bassist, Ben Bastile, and that there are three percussionists, Ben Diamond, Corey Mark, and Alec Meltzer. Blow Our Minds in particular is a percussive tour de force, opening with nearly four minutes of pure percussion that sounds as if you’re sitting in the drummer’s seat behind a very large kit.
And in case you’re wondering about some of those strange track titles (Career Cheerleader, Smug Fit and Vapid Transit in particular – video below) the website yet again helps us out: ‘The music is an interpretation of the current sociopolitical culture; song titles reflect aspects of certain stunted personalities’ – who could that possibly be, so close to US election time?In short, if you like rock-oriented jazz, or jazz-oriented rock, or fusion trumpet, or a host of other musical influences, you’ll probably like this. It’s well worth a listen.
Categories: CD reviews