Tito Carrillo: Urbanessence

Fiery Chicago-resident Texan trumpeter shows his Latin American roots as well as, in composition, suggesting Wayne Shorter


Texan trumpeter Tito Carillo has been a fixture in Chicago for some years now and his work shows the influence of his Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage, here manifested in the use of congas and percussion on several numbers. These include the vibrant Poor To Rico and the title track, Urbanessence, in which Victor Gonzalez is featured, producing impressively energetic cross-rhythms with drummer Jay Sawyer and the percussive comping of pianist Ben Lewis.  Crazy, Stupid Fine, introduced and led by bassist Clark Sommers, takes the Latin tinge into soulful areas.

Carillo has been compared with Freddie Hubbard, understandably as his tone and delivery is similar, displaying the same adventurous spirit and virtuosity. It varies between fiery upper register work, propelled by insistent rhythms, to warm, full tones on the slower numbers, such as Bliss Point, Up The Down Staircase and Sublime, his tribute to the late Roy Hargrove.

There is a resemblance in Carrillo’s compositions to those of Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note and Miles Davis periods, in their modal approach, adjusting the melody and tempo, and exploring without losing the formality and emotional range. Fire And Ice, Bliss Point and Fly By Night are notable examples, the build-up a platform for strong forthright statements from both Carrillo and tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts.

Roberts again is featured on Justice & Mercy, the plaintive intro leading into a rolling tempo, the tenor soon forging its way into Coltranesque territory, before a brief Sawyer break takes us back to the pensive theme.

The rhythm section supplies solid support throughout, soloing thoughtfully, none more so than pianist Lewis. Whether using Latin rhythms, setting down introductory passages, fill-ins or veering towards abstraction in his inventive solos, he’s always pushing to the limit.

Momentum; Fire & Ice; Bliss Point; Urbanessence; Crazy, Stupid Fine (bass intro); Crazy, Stupid Fine; Poor To Rico; Up The Down Staircase; Justice & Mercy (for Bryan Stevenson); Fly by Night; Sublime (for Roy Hargrove) (77.27)
Carrillo (t); Troy Roberts (ts, ss); Ben Lewis (p); Clark Sommers (b); Jay Sawyer (d); Victor González (cga). Chicago, September 2021.
Origin Records 82859