Trumpeter Jimmy Owens is not alone in thinking that Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis rank among our "living national treasures." Owens offered his tribute to them Saturday night, when the Charlin Jazz Society staged a "Trumpet Summit" in honor of Gillespie and Davis at the Washington Ethical Society.
The concert brought Owens together with several musicians of a similar persuasion. Among them were local trumpeters Kenny Reed and Allen Houser, and the BW3 trio -- pianist Marc Cohen, bassist Tommy Cecil and drummer Hugh Walker. The music, which lasted three invigorating hours, extended from early Dizzy ("Woodie 'n You"), to classic Miles ("'Round Midnight" and "All Blues"), to an original tune by Owens ("Swiftly Fast"). And although the sound system developed problems, hardly a tune passed in which a soloist, or the entire ensemble, didn't excel.
Throughout, Owens displayed passion, speed, dexterity and wit. He was especially inventive on the flugelhorn, often capping eccentric, growling phrases with tuba-low exclamations. Reed and Houser made several striking solo contributions, but the tune "In Your Own Sweet Way" best expressed their compatibility. Houser's muted trumpet unfolded the melody with quiet precision while Reed cast a warm shadow of sound. They're clearly two of Washington's finest jazz musicians.