Back in the Day – Vaughn Nark

Back in the Day – Vaughn Nark
Catalog number: 752


01 Cutting Through
comp: Vaughn Nark
02 Runaway
comp: Gordon Brisker
03 A Night in Tunisia
comp: Dizzy Gillespie, Franco Papareli
04 Line for Lyons
comp: Gerry Mulligan
05 Counting Down
comp: Bobby Shew
06 Alone
comp: Vaughn Nark
07 Blues in the Guts
comp: Jack Walrath
08 Caravan
comp: Juan Tizol, Duke Ellington
09 Over the Rainbow
comp: Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harbury
10 Donna Lee
comp: Charlie Parker
11 Cloudcroft
comp: Bobby Shew
12 Autumn Leaves
comp: Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prevert, Joseph Kosma
13 Hidden Promise
comp: Vaughn Nark
14 No Cause for Concern
comp: Tom Williams
15 El Tigre
comp: John Harmon

This recording is two nearly complete, impossible to find LPs from the early ’80s: “Cutting Through” and “El Tigre”!

Vaughn Nark: producer, trumpet, fluegelhorn, valve trombone; Pete BarenBregge: tenor, alto, baritone saxophone, flute; Stef Scaggiari: acoustic and electric piano; Tom Wlliams: acoustic & electric bass; Dave Palamar: drums; **Marc Copland: piano; **Keith Killgo: drums


An icon in the world of trumpet players, Vaughn Nark has dazzled audiences across America for decades. His highly sought after recordings are enjoyed by jazz aficionados worldwide and eagerly studied by trumpet students who are constantly amazed by the explosiveness of his playing.

In the spring of 1978,Vaughn became a member of The Premiere Jazz Ensemble of the United States Air Force the Airmen of Note.  Hecaught the attention of many thousands of people across the country who witnessed his blistering lead and solo work, and the searing high notes he unleashed for nearly 20 years with that prestigious organization.  By Presidential Order, he was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal for his “distinctive accomplishments and contributions” while a member of The Note.

Since retiring from the Air Force in 1993, Vaughn’s career has continued upwards as a guest artist and Yamahaclinician with some of the finest bands in the country.  He works with the next generation of musicians as a clinician and teacher, and has released several projects on Summit Records.

Once you’ve listened to this recording, you may be tempted to use an oven mitt to remove the disc from your CD player because it’s just that hot!  Vaughn and the quintet sear through charts like Cutting Throughand Donna Leethat are locked in at breakneck tempos, while showing his ability to tell compelling stories on the well-crafted ballads such as Over the Rainbowand Hidden Promise.  His trumpet playing is jam-packed with an array of unmatched technical firepower and tweeter-blowing high notes, all of which are stamped with his unique, signature sound. His stylings on flugelhorn brilliantly showcase the seemingly endless supply of ideas he infuses into each solo. If that weren’t enough, Vaughn kicks the music into overdrive when he shifts from playing in the upper register on trumpet to putting a valve trombone to his chops and belting out a flurry of robust licks and figures.   Vaughn says, “My voice is in using my instruments to reveal all the moods of our human experience to paint a full portrait that captures the big picture“.  That voice he speaks of is clarion and the portrait beautifully framed in Back in the Day.

It’s evident that each instrument Vaughn lays hold of becomes a tool to evoke the emotion of someone who takes good care the business involved with making high quality music. His performances breed instant inspiration that moves you from being a mere listener to quickly become the avid admirer.  Even Dizzy Gillespie himself immediately recognized what Vaughn had to say through his playing upon hearing him perform with his own group for the very first time. Dizzy had been a major influence in the mind and development of Vaughn when he was growing up.  Yet the first time Dizzy heard Vaughn play he didn’t hear echoes of his own recorded solos being mimicked by a well-intentioned young trumpeter.  Instead, the musical grand master caught the spirit and emotion Vaughn expressed through his trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone stylings.  He could see, feel and hear that this young man, with the fire in his spirit, was very special, so much so that he asked Vaughn to return to the stage with him for his entire engagement at Washington DC’s  Blues Alley  following that first encounter, and many times afterward.   It wasn’t long before Dizzy concluded, “Vaughn Nark is somethin’ special”.  Likewise, Dr. Herb Wong realized the musical richness Vaughn had achieved years ago when he wrote,“Vaughn Nark is tomorrow’s inspiration today”.

Employing the right arrangers, and colossal cast of musicians to bolster Vaughn’s total performance, is something he takes seriously. When you consider the full spectrum of music that unfolds on this recording, and all that it takes to present it on such an incredibly high level, the environment demands players who are the cream of the cream of the crop.  Vaughn’s voice on trumpet, flugelhorn and valve-bone cover it all…from laughter to sorrow.

-Mark Channon (from the liner notes)




An alum of the Air Force Band that helped the crew fly high in his tenure, this cat that’s as at home with the trumpet as the trombone can blow up a storm that he can also fly through in any weather.  A solid player that can pile on the notes with break neck speed or lay back and let the river flow, he’s a mainstream jazzbo that never fails to please and enchant.  Terrific stuff that works well throughout powered by real chops.​

-Midewest Record by Chris Spector


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