You won’t find anyone who lives and breathes jazz as much as Vince Tampio. The highly qualified multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger has spent his whole life contributing his services to the jazz world – reading the endless list of groups and projects he has been involved with is quite overwhelming. It is no wonder that he has made a name for himself in Philadelphia, not only for his generous contributions but also for his solo work. His 2020 release ‘Adult Children’ is a professional statement of his abilities beyond jazz, although jazz is, of course, the main ingredient here. The atypical instrumentation and use of modern production techniques characterises ‘Adult Children’ as a jazz fusion album with a contemporary twist.
This isn’t the first time Tampio has fused jazz with other genres in his playing; ‘Sound Plan’ (2017) incorporates psychedelic rock and EDM whilst ‘Tides’ (2019) is influenced by ambient sounds and makes use of synthesisers. But ‘Adult Children’ is Tampio’s definitive take on jazz fusion, a selection of fun and colourful songs ‘informed by hard-bop and inspired by highlife music’. As well as Tampio himself on trumpet, guitar and bass, he is aided by bassist Ben Basile, guitarists Joe Heider and Drew Parker and percussionists Ben Diamond, Corey Mark and Alec Meltzer. And it is perhaps the Latin percussion that is the main feature of the album which importantly sets an alternatively exotic stage for the many bouts of creative improvisation. Additional layered guitar parts, doused in varied effects, provide a versatile accompaniment that is sometimes airy and lush but can also sound robust and punchy – the contrast of the electric instruments against the natural percussion creates a very interesting blend of sounds. The lead role in improvisation is taken on by either the trumpet or the guitar, alike in their wild playing styles and harmonic explorations that serve to challenge the overall tonality. This makes for a very interesting listening experience that will keep you guessing.
Explosive songs such as the fast-paced ‘Vapid Transit’, characterised by discordant accompaniment and rapid trumpet and guitar licks, contrast the laid back ‘Soul Food Buddhist’. The piece lends itself to a psychedelic influence due to the airy guitar accompaniment and hypnotic trumpet melody that is made to sound threatening by a strange guitar harmony over the top. ‘Cardinal Rule’ is yet again different in style, with a funk influence being reflected in the punchy guitar accompaniment. The middle section brings the dynamic down so that the bass line and percussion become the focus but the funk influence is still retained through intermittent punches from the guitar accompaniment – an increase in tempo brings back the energy of the piece. Perhaps the most interesting song on the album is the closing track ‘Blow Our Minds’ with its avant-guard style; over half of the song is dedicated to an extended percussion solo, giving the listener a chance to properly hear the quirky Latin accompaniment that gives this album a unique edge. As the improvisation develops, the sounds become shrill and discomforting before the bass jumps in to relieve the listener and a final jam brings the album to a close.
And there is more to hear and absorb on the album, but the songs outlined here showcase the many styles Tampio has chosen to fuse with his roots in jazz. This man has evidently worked hard to become the musician he is – and it really shows! It seems he can literally do anything and execute it in style, as I am sure he will continue to do with the new directions he will take for future albums. If you want something vibrant, playful and uplifting, then this is the album for you!
Written by Dominic Sanderson
You can find Vince Tampio on Facebook and Instagram! ‘Adult Children’ is available on all major streaming platforms!