American Record Guide

Chris Gekker’s full and warm trumpet sound is always welcome. This program opens with Robert Gibson’s melancholy ‘Fall’ (2016). Lance Hulme’s 3-movement, 13-minute Ghost Dialogues (1993) is for trumpet and tenor saxophone. The movements bear titles that refer to dramas involving spirits: ‘Adieu, Adieu: Remember me’ (Hamlet), ‘Dammi la Mano in Pegno’ (Don Giovanni), ‘It goes so fast’ (Our Town). Does the music seem to fit the titles? Not that I can tell; but they are lively, often poignant dialogs with frequent tinges of jazz. Chris Vadala, Gekker’s colleague at the University of Maryland, is the fine tenor saxophonist. Gekker and Vadala team up again in David Heinick’s whimsical ‘Served Two Ways’ (2011).

Hulme is also the composer of The Street Has Changed (2015), a somber set of songs poems by Randall Jarrell. The first three are for voice and trumpet; the fourth adds an stage piano (played by the composer). Clara O’Brien is the rich-voiced mezzo soprano. It is a thought-provoking work, but the voice-trumpet movements have some wandering pitches especially when vibratos are big.

Carson Cooman composed the 3-movement, 15-minute Equinox Sonata for Gekker in 2015. I especially enjoy the pensive II, ‘Dream Walking,’ dedicated to the late composer Brian Fennelly.

Kevin McKee’s ‘Song for a Friend’ (2015) is another touching tribute to a deceased musician. Beautiful playing and collaborating by pianist Rita Sloan.

—Barry Kilpatrick