On the evening of May 26, 2011, I took the Metro home from work just like any ordinary day, except the heat rised above 90 degrees. My final destination was Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Station. I usually waited by the the bus stop on the northside for my wife and son to pick me up, but on that day I waited inside the terminal to hear two young buskers (a male on violin and female on cello) sawing away some classical pieces. While observing their playing, I could hear faithly a trumpet sound from the southside of the terminal.
Fifteen minutes went by and still didn’t see my wife’s car so I walked over to the other side to check out the other busker. The man who was soaking sweat under the sun was in the middle of playing a mid-tempo solo accompanied by a pre-programmed rhythm section coming out of a speaker that was connected to an iPod.
He had a big tone with clean chops that are reminscent of Miles Davis. At the end of the tune, I complimented him, “You have the Miles sound.” He replied, “Thanks. Today is Miles’ birthday.” I was like, “Really?” He nodded his head while dialing his iPod. He went on, “I got some Miles’ tunes for you.” Then he began to play his own interpretion of “Milestones” and “Four.” He also covered a beautiful ballad, “It Never Entered My Mind,” on both muted and open trumpet.
After hearing the three tunes, I wanted to get his CD, but he only had one left. He warned me that the CD is a smooth jazz and he didn’t think a Miles freak like me would enjoy it. I copped it away.
The trumpeter’s name was Freddie Dunn and Longing for the Moon featured most of his original compositions except for Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood” and Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy.” The album opens with “Looking at the Moon.” The soothing, late-night groove indeed suggests a smooth flavor, but Dunn was able to squeeze out some melodic phrases against the pre-arranged beat.
On “VinBev.com,” “Nature Boy” and “Toonin’ In,” Dunn uses the muted tone to create a startling sound that reminded me of what Miles had done on Tutu, one of my personal favorites of Electric Miles. “Toonin’ In,” in particular, is so hauntingly wicked as if his pointed playing was cutting through the urban beat. “Fre-chan” is a sensational collaboration with altoman Eugene Chapman. After the two horn players take turn chopping up the funkified beat, Dunn returns to the slow, relaxing “Monk’s Mood” to showcase his ballad playing.
Dunn was being modest when he told me that Longing for the Moon is a smooth jazz album. Sure the records are lay back and mellow, yet his solos are anything but sleepy or boring. I am so glad that I spotted him.