Matt Cappy’s musical education was largely formed in Philadelphia and since then, he’s gone on to perform around the world with jazz and pop greats from Michael Jackson to Michael Brecker. His Grammy credits are impressive and his own new release Church and State is equally imposing.
The rhythm section has barely begun the opening track – East Philly – before Cappy’s trumpet comes in and begins the easy virtuoso playing that sets the tone for the album. Cappy is the consummate musician and his writing allows the other players to shine here, in Rose Lane and across the whole album, with some extraordinary work from a huge number of players and instruments.
The range of instruments makes this a fascinating album, with some real East coast jazz on tracks like Phoenix, which features Junius Bervine on Fender Rhodes. Using different drummers makes this a really collaborative album that Cappy floats above, directing the underflow. Mario Crew’s drum solo on Phoenix is stunning, segueing nicely into the percussion-based version of Ave Maria.
Cappy’s pop history comes to the fore in the album’s title track, with Chill Moody’s rap alongside Flugelhorn before developing into a blistering bebop battle with tuba and trombone. Bervine once more features on Eight Five Six – the title a reference to the South Jersey area code – which also features an intense guitar solo from Clay Sears, sitting beautifully beneath Cappy’s trumpet.
Sacramento takes a step towards more pop before the lovely Amazing Grace lends Cappy’s pure trumpet sound a classical edge, blending with the vocals of Marsha Ambrosius and her delicious vocal arrangement and complex strings arranged by Lars Halle. That classical sound continues with Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, featuring vocals by Stephen Costello.
The Last One takes Cappy and a pared-down band back to jazz with Bervine once more on Fender and Dan Monahan on drums and Anthony Tidd on unassuming but solid bass. Cappy floats clearly in and out of the arrangement, ending the album that’s a trumpeter’s dream – a handsome sound, with a variety of backing that shows the artist’s consummate skill.