The recent Kool Jazz Festival in Washington was so crowded with big-name artists that it was easy to overlook some of the lesser known but talented musicians. Fortunately, trumpeter Bucky Thorpe got a second hearing at Mr. Y's last night, where he apparently found the club's after-hours groove and the alert companionship of the Wade Beach Trio much to his liking.
Actually Thorpe concentrated on playing the fluegelhorn last night, but he often extracted from the instrument a trumpet-like tone--one much brighter and sharper than usual. At first his playing was tentative as he eased into a softly swinging blues, outlining the melody while acquainting himself with the rhythm section. In time, though, he was running through a blistering post-bop piece in which all the ingredients--Thorpe's soaring staccato assaults, Beach's tumultuous chorus, drummer Bill Washburn's crackling accents, and bassist Carlos LaGuardia's solid underpinning--came together in surprisingly short order.
Several slower numbers, including Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa," gave Thorpe a chance to develop a more reflective approach. Still, there was always a bite to his tone, a certain tartness that gave his ballads a distinctive and alluring quality all their own.
He returns to Mr. Y's tonight.