By Hrayr Attarian
Quentin Coaxum You & I
Quentin Coaxum – Trumpet
Dustin Laurenzi – Tenor saxophone
Julius Tucker – Piano
Andrew Vogt – Acoustic bass
(2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Joshua Griffin – Electric bass (1, 3, 6, 10)
Clif Wallace – Drums
Jeff Swanson – Guitar (1, 7, 8, 9)
Anders Nordstrom – Guitar (3, 6, 8)
Mesonjixx – Vocals (8, 9)
Additional horns for “20/20”:
Ryan Nyther – Trumpet
Marquis Hill – Trumpet
Will Miller – Trumpet
Corey Wilkes – Trumpet
Nick Mazzarella – Alto saxophone
Carlos Brown Jr. – Alto saxophone (solo)
Lenard Simpson – Alto saxophone
Artie Black – Tenor saxophone
Kenneth Leftridge Jr. – Tenor saxophone
Roosevelt Griffin – Trombone
Alex Wasily – Trombone
St. Louis native and Chicago-based trumpeter Quentin Coaxum follows his auspicious debut, Current (Skiptone Music, 2014), with the captivating self-released You & I. On it Coaxum leads a dynamic band of Chicago’s brightest improvisers in interpreting ten of his exciting originals. Interpersing spoken word segments with vibrant compositions, Coaxum weaves a relevant tale of civic events and musical trends that have contributed to his growth as a human and an artist.
For instance, a soulful and laid back groove permeates “Intimacy.” The tune opens with a brief, introspective musing on the nature of love over pianist Julius Tucker’s percolating keys. Saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi and Coaxum play the tender melody with alternating and complementary phrases. Electric bassist Joshua Griffin and guitarist Andres Nodtrom contribute a funky 1970s ambiance with their muscular vamps and swaggering strums.
The track that immediately follows, “East Boogie Rundown,” starts off with a monologue about civil disobedience. The boppish music allows Coaxum and Tucker to stretch out with elegance and spontaneity. The former plays warm, burnished lines that sometimes wail with reserved passion. Tucker lets loose dense chords and resonant tones in a short, yet poignant, solo.
Vocalist Mesonjixx makes a guest appearance on two songs she co-wrote with Coaxum. On the expressive “I Cannot Explain,” the leader’s muted horn matches Mesonjixx’s lyrical singing while guitarist Jeff Swanson, bassist Andrew Vogt, and drummer Clif Wallace lay down a smooth, undulating cadence.
This enjoyable and enchanting recording closes with the R&B-esque “20/20.” Over melodic ensemble vamps, two people engage in a relaxed and pensive conversation about urgent social issues. A large horn section enhances the orchestration of this brief, yet cinematic, piece.
You & I is a cohesive work that demonstrates Coaxum’s polished style and crystallized creativity. Its content is quite accessible and its message urgently relevant. With it, Coaxum has produced a well-balanced album that is both deeply personal as well as relatable to the public at large.