Trumpeter/flugelhornist Brad Upton prefers contemplation to fireworks, and his new release, Dragon, recorded in Boulder in May 2001, reveals a musician deep inside his thoughts. Of the eight Upton originals collected on the disc, four are dedicated to Buddhist teachers important in his spiritual life, one is for his eighteen-year-old daughter, one is for his wife and one is for Herbie Hancock. The remaining tune, a captivating bit of mysterioso called "Naga Mountain," came straight out of a dream that awakened the trumpeter at 3 a.m. The mellow attack and flowing lines in his low-key playing recall vintage Art Farmer and, at moments, Miles Davis's dark understatement. Upton's able sidemen include some of the finest Denver-based jazzmen: pianist and arranger Eric Gunnison, the tasteful drummer Mike Marlier and the vivid, Latin-inflected bassist Eduardo "Bijoux" Barbosa. All in all, this is a satisfying visit to the quietlands of jazz. (See blackorchidmusic.com.)
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