Dear old Amy Winehouse! Her magnificent star shone all too briefly but the wake of that very special star helped change the course of UK soul and in a wider context it impacted on all kinds of musicians. One such musician is smooth jazz trumpeter Darren Barrett. Born in Toronto but now working out of Boston (where he attended Berklee College Of Music), Darren was originally mentored by the great Donald Byrd before going on to work with people like Esperanza Spaulding, Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Roy Hargrove, Common and D’Angelo. Of Jamaican descent, Mr B eventually evolved his own unique sound – a sort of jazz and reggae mash up – which he delivered via a band he called Trumpet Vibes. Simultaneously, Darren became aware of Amy Winehouse and became captivated by her whole approach to music but more specifically the way she infused some of her music with a subtle reggae flavour. After her tragic passing Darren thought it would be a good idea to produce an album in her honour and now after several years’ work that album has just won release.
The collection is a 10 tracker that picks a varied selection of tunes from Amy’s repertoire – Winehouse originals and some of the wonderful songs she chose to cover. On some, Darren offers instrumental treatments but on others he brings in vocalist Joanna Teters to fill the Winehouse role. Joanna is a fellow graduate of Berklee and wisely she doesn’t try to replicate the Winehouse sound. In places she does manage a similar lazy, slurring approach to the lyrics but generally she’s less aggressive and a touch more subtle. She fronts versions of ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’, ‘Rehab’, ‘Back To Black’ and a really lovely ‘Just Friends’ and like the vocals, the Trumpet Vibes band offer a backdrop that is a lot smoother than that offered by the Dap Tone horns… but then you’d expect that wouldn’t you?
Best of the instrumentals are versions of Ruby and The Romantics’ ‘Our Day Will Come’ and The Shirelles’ ‘Will You Still Love Me tomorrow’. Amy loved both of these songs and Darren Barrett does them real credit and I’m sure she would approve of his treatments. ‘Our Day’ is jauntily reggae-fied (great vibes from Simon Moullier) while on ‘Tomorrow’ Barrett’s horn is beautifully forlorn as befits the song’s sentiment.
DARREN BARRETT & TRUMPET VIBES; ‘The Music Of Amy Winehouse’ is out now