Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time (2005)
We are fortunate that jazz has been touched by men like Gerald Wilson. Many legends have passed through this music, leaving us with memories of performances and recordings that will remain long beyond their time. Recorded in our time from a man for all time, In My Time is Wilson's second album for Mack Avenue Records and a followup to the Grammy-nominated New York, New Sound. This session of vibrant and electrifying music will be remembered as one of Wilson's best projects. At age 87, the elder statesman of jazz is not yet finished sharing his music with the world. As we relish this big band sound, a separate compilation of his music from 1961-66 has also just hit the street.
What music this is! When one thinks of jazz, the instrument that most often comes to mind is the saxophone. Wilson pays tribute to it with the opening "Sax Chase," previously known as "Triple Chase" because it featured solos from tenor, alto, and baritone saxophones. The band roars through ten minutes of saxational thunder, highlighting some passionate alternating tenor and alto solos, followed by a torrid chorus from Gary Smulyan on baritone, in between an encore chorus of more alto and tenor madness. Saxophonists Ron Blake, Steve Wilson, Kamasi Washington, and Dustin Cicero round out this one. I've been listening to big band music for a long time now, and I have to tell you this one blew me away. The following three selections"Dorian," "Ray's Vision At The U," and "Blues For Manhattan"comprise the "Diminished Triangle" suite, a study of diminished chords commissioned by the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz and presented for the first time at Cal State in April 2005.
"Lomelin" is a special treat and one of the album's highlights. It was penned for Mexican bullfighter Antonio Lomelin and is played in the style of an emotional Spanish bolero, serving as a platform for a high-pitched trumpet solo performance by John Faddis. "Bluesette" belongs to guitarist Russell Malone, who dominates this beautiful bluesy ballad. Pianist Renee Rosnes makes her mark with a two-minute intro on "A.E.N.," later taken by the band into fiery territory. I've heard Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" many times before, but never quite like this. Wilson's arrangement of this standard makes for a memorable big band number. Last but certainly not least is "Jeri," named for Wilson's first-born daughter, a spunky and upbeat brassy finale.
One of the greatest composers and arrangers in the history of jazz, Gerald Wilson is no stranger to Grammy nominations and should not be surprised to get a nod for In My Time. One of the best recordings of 2005, this album is a product of powerful arrangements and writing, inspired musicianship, and a lot of class. Let me echo the only words you hear on this album, at the end of "Jeri"... "Thank you, Gerald."
Track Listing: Sax Chase; Dorian; Ray's Vision At The U; Blues For Manhattan; Lomelin; A.E.N.; Musette; So What; Love For Sale; Jeri.
Personnel: Gerald Wilson: conductor; Jon Faddis, Frank Greene, Jimmy Owen, Jeremy Pelt, Eddie Henderson, Mike Rodriguez, Sean Jones: trumpet; Benny Powell, Dennis Wilson, Douglas Purviance, Luis Bonilla: trombone; Kamasi Washington: tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Ron Blake: tenor saxophone, flute; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, flute; Jerry Dodgion: alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Dustin Cicero: alto saxophone; Russell Malone: guitar; Lewis Nash: drums; Peter Washington: bass; Renee Rosnes: piano.