Dave Wilson: Spiral (2010)
The nature of successful interlocking is that the pieces fit each other with seamless perfection. In a group of disparate musicians this is not always possible. However, with the ensemble that saxophonist Dave Wilson has put together the pieces seem to fit with enviable perfection. There is a swirling energy that keeps the unit cohesive; but, more than that, it appears as if saxophonist, pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Adam Nussbaum were cut from the same cloth. The understanding between each of the musicians is telepathic and often, throughout the long and rewarding set, it feels as if they share one dynamic brain.
Something is always happening in the churning energy of the vortex that is the Dave Wilson Quartet. Usually, Wilson provokes this with the gruff-and-tender miasma that swirls like an electromagnetic field around his saxophone. He gently agitates the very air around him with fluidity that recalls the gentle and throaty persuasions of Joe Henderson on tenor. On soprano saxophone, Wilson favors a drier tone that streams with gilded edges and sharp undulations. His thoughts flow rapidly on both horns, turning out statements of a concrete, poetic nature. If he flutters on the soprano horn it is never too far from the gaiety of the melody. This anchor enables him and his fellow musicians to create great circular clusters of sound, charged with burgeoning harmony.
The modal energy of "Spiral" and the sway of "Elm" do not even begin to foretell what is to follow later on the album. Compositions are challenging and full of surprise. Wilson sets a stellar example in this regard, leading pianist and bassist on a mission to color each with a harmonic palette that is deep and sensuous. His exquisite work on "Movin' On" is just one example. The wonderful take on "Gloria's Step," that memorable work from Scott LaFaro, follows on "Like GS 2." The counterpoint provided by Marino's bass, weaves a mesmerizing harmonic fabric with the tantalizing melodic line played by Wilson. Nussbaum is restrained, but with such energy that it seems likely he will burst forth at any time. It is, however, Marino who does the bursting and his solo is taut and inventive. The three-way exchange between saxophone, bass and drums toward the end of the piece is unforgettable.
There is so much on this album to challenge not simply the musicians, but also those who hear the music. This is a record that reaches deep into the soulsomething that cannot be said about very much music these days.
Track Listing: Spiral; Elm; Ocean Blue; Friend of the Devil; Summer Breezes; My Own Prison; Movin' On; Like GS 2; Remembering; Francisca; (You're The) Biggest Part of Me.
Personnel: Dave Wilson: tenor and soprano saxophones; Phil Markowitz: bass; Tony Marino: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.