DIZZY GILLESPIE has had some nice things to say about area trumpeter Vaughn Nark, which should surprise no one, since the two have a lot in common.
Like Gillespie, Nark is an extremely adept musician with a sure grasp of harmony and a flair for the colorful. On "El Tigre," Nark's second and latest album, the extraordinary technique he has honed as a member of the Air Force jazz ensemble, Airmen of Note, is readily apparent, especially on the blistering "Donna Lee."
But there are more subtle delights too, not the least being the deeply expressive original piece "Hidden Pleasures" and the inspired support of pianist Mark Cohen and the other members of Nark's quintet.
Another local jazz offering is "Stained Glass Window" by Art Monroe and his trio, featuring the talented pianist performing five original compositions. Admirers of the late pianist Bill Evans are likely to find Monroe's work particularly pleasing, since numbers like "Muse" swing in a subdued, elegant and thoroughly Evans-like fashion.
Monroe also has a more extroverted side, as evidenced by the scurrying runs and crashing chords on "Whichever Way the Wind Blows." But even here the musical storm eventually subsides, giving way to quiet reflection. It's a measure of Monroe's gifts as pianist and composer that all five selections, which run as long as 11 minutes, never wear out their welcome. It helps, of course, that bassist Paul Langosch and drummer Mike Smith are sharply attuned to Monroe's thoughtful creations.