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Trumpeter and composer Suresh Singaratnam follows his critically-acclaimed album, Lost in New York, with this whimsical single, his second to date. Unlike last year's That is You, in which Singaratnam allowed vocalist Gretchen Parlato and pianist Jamie Reynolds to assume center stage, contributing a memorable but sparing trumpet solo, Casually Blue features Singaratnam's muted trumpet prominently, an equal partner in this duet with Luis Bonilla's unmistakable trombone.

A relative newcomer to the international jazz scene, Singaratnam is practically peerless as virtuoso performer and composer in both jazz and classical trumpet idioms, having released two feted albums - one in each idiom - in a single year. Mark E Hayes of eJazzNews called Lost In New York "not just an outstanding debut album for a gifted player and composer...simply an outstanding album." Of Singaratnam's classical trumpet album, Two Hundred Sixty One: Volume One, All Music Guide says, "what this trumpet-and-piano recital reveals is a fine developing soloist with serious speed."

Luis Bonilla, Singaratnam's co-conspirator for this outing, is a veteran both of the bands of jazz greats McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie and Astrud Gilberto, and those of pop icons Tony Bennett, Marc Anthony, Alejandro Sans and Mary J. Blige. Of Bonilla, Grammy-winner Arturo O'Farrill says, “[he] is one of the finest trombone players on the scene today. No one sounds like him or writes like him, he is a unique and remarkable artist”. This year Bonilla released his fifth album, Twilight, which The Midwest Record called "a spiritual step child of 'Kind of Blue'," and "first class sitting down jazz that you don't have to be an egghead to get behind."

The vehicle for Bonilla's and Singaratnam's collaboration, Casually Blue is on its surface old school. Harmon-muted trumpet and trombone seem to interweave and "chase" each other's lines, as in a New Orleans Street March. On closer examination Singaratnam and Bonilla alternately play the traditional roles of soloist and accompanist, one weaving melodies, the other tooting "walking bass" lines and reinforcing the harmonies. Both are so comfortable in their roles and listen so well that an easy interplay is the memorable and penetrating feature of this recording, overshadowing rhythm, harmony and form. One could picture Singaratnam and Bonilla busking for tips on a Treme street corner, though passersby in real life should be lucky enough to catch a performance like this one.

- Nathaniel Smith


released March 3, 2010
Luis Bonilla - trombone
Suresh Singaratnam - trumpet, composer
Nathaniel Smith - liner notes


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Suresh Singaratnam

Suresh Singaratnam is a trumpeter of uncommon breadth - unique not only for the small crowd he inhabits as a virtuoso of both classical and jazz styles but also for the continuity and clarity of his voice across both idioms. When he began to study the trumpet at age nine, it never occurred to him that he might have to choose between the two.

- Nathaniel Smith
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