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Connor Young, 'Flight of the Starlings'

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Published January 17, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated January 17, 2024 at 10:14 a.m.


Connor Young, Flight of the Starlings - COURTESY
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  • Connor Young, Flight of the Starlings

(Self-released, digital)

Recording an album of original jazz compositions is a praiseworthy achievement for any musician, let alone one still in their twenties. But Connor Young's been honing his trumpet skills since he was just 12 years old. With the release of his first solo project, Flight of the Starlings, the Vermont native struts out with an offering that sounds beyond his years and should establish him as one of the area's leading jazz visionaries.

Self-released in December, the nine tracks take shape mostly in the bebop form and provide a framework for cool improvisation. Young deftly emulates some of the legendary jazz trumpeters who came before him, displaying his own touch of grace and subtly incorporating sounds from outside the genre.

The title piece sets a modern tone, billowing with allure before taking flight on Young's tireless gale to become the first of numerous intricate feats on the album. But on most of these thoughtful and ambitious arrangements — some are robust in duration as well as sound — seasoned listeners will hear him and his mates paying remarkable tribute to the jazz of years past.

Winsome and refined, the album showcases other outstanding musicians from or now living in the Burlington area, each with their own impressive résumé. Young is joined by drummer Geza Carr, upright bassist John Rivers, pianist Michael Hartigan, cellist John Dunlop, violist Matt LaRocca, and violinists Brooke Quiggins Saulnier and Laura Markowitz.

As they range from the casual stroll of "Late Notice" to the feisty swing of the first single, "Red Light," to the warm and meandering "Sundaze," these compositions find the time and space to highlight the talents of each instrumentalist.

The recording closes with one of its more experimental endeavors. On "Whale Song," Young uses strings in a fascinating design that drifts underneath some of the trumpeter's most vivid and singular notes of the entire album.

Flight of the Starlings was recorded and mixed in the Old North End at Tank Recording Studio under the care of Ben Collette, one of Burlington's most respected sound engineers. Fred Kevorkian, a veteran of the field who's worked with a list of stars, mastered it in Brooklyn.

Before the album came to be, Young learned from a host of esteemed teachers and players as a jazz performance student at McGill University in Montréal. Since graduating in 2018, he's played with various outfits based in Vermont or elsewhere in New England, such as Brickdrop, George Walker Petit, Kat Wright and Ray Vega — one of his first teachers. He also performs sets with his own trio and quartet.

With this sophisticated and thoughtful collection of songs, Young has put himself on track to build a repertoire of the same kind of music he studied with a passion in Québec and fell in love with years earlier as a teenager.

Flight of the Starlings is streaming on Spotify.

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