Keys And Chords
Trumpeter Darren Barrett, winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, was flipping through cable television channels while taking a break from a recording session when he stumbled upon a live concert by Amy Winehouse. He had heard the buzz about the unconventional British artist, but hadn’t heard any of her music until that moment. The musician of Jamaican descent with a proclivity for incorporating reggae into his neo-bop jazz recordings was instantly struck by the way the rhythm & soul singer-songwriter infused reggae into her throwback tracks.
“I was surprised to discover that the majority of her concert consisted of performing music mirroring the spirit-liberating sound of reggae music. Damn! Amy was laying the music down like one of the ‘old heads.’ She immediately gained much respect from me and I soon became a fan and a loyal follower of her fast-moving musical career,” Barrett recalled about his 2008 discovery and the inspiration for his eighth album, “The Music of Amy Winehouse,” which will be released August 26 on the dB Music label.
Barrett and his Trumpet Vibes band, a jazz and reggae group, selected nine songs from the late artist’s songbook and spent over a year working on the arrangements and rehearsing before entering the studio. To recreate Winehouse’s high voltage, multi-tiered sound, Barrett augmented his band by adding guitars, keyboards, saxophone and percussion to the Trumpet Vibes lineup that consists of the trumpeter-producer, bassist Alexander Toth, drummer Anthony Toth and vibraphonist Simon Moullier (noted vibraphonist Warren Wolf is featured on “Our Day Will Come”). Naturally, the toughest part was casting a female vocalist capable of capturing Winehouse’s uniquely soulful and charismatic spirit on hallmark hits such as “Tears Dry On Their Own,” “Rehab,” “Back To Black” and “Just Friends.” Enter Joanna Teters.
“I met Joanna many years ago when she was a student at Berklee College of Music, but never had the opportunity to work with her,” said Barrett, who is an associate professor in the ensemble department at the distinguished school in addition to his work as an artist. “I continued to listen to many of her projects after she graduated, having a strong sense that someday we would eventually work together. Well it happened just as I predicted. Joanna joined us on the Amy Winehouse project and really captured the essence of Amy's musicality without neglecting to incorporate the uniqueness of her own personality into each song. The commitment and musical steadfastness that each musician brought to the project has resulted in a recording that Amy’s well-deserving fans will not only enjoy, but also appreciate as they reconnect to Amy’s simple joy of creating music.”
A Toronto, Ontario native who has been based in Boston ever since he attended Berklee, Barrett was a soloist on Esperanza Spaulding’s two-time Grammy-winning “Radio Music Society.” Mentored by trumpet great Donald Byrd, he has recorded or played internationally with jazz giants Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Wayne Shorter and Roy Hargrove. Barrett has also performed with Common, will.i.am, Talib Kweli and D’Angelo. Maintaining a prolific album release pace since 2014, “The Music of Amy Winehouse” follows last fall’s critically-hailed jazz and reggae mashup “Trumpet Vibes” and predates a straight-ahead jazz outing from the dB Quintet that is expected in the first quarter of 2017. For more information, please visit www.DarrenBarrett.com.