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Gerald Wilson: New York, NY, September 30, 2011

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Gerald Wilson, Anthony Wilson, Eric Otis and the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, New York, NY September 30, 2011 There are jazz players who've had extended careers, and then there's Gerald Wilson. The veteran composer, arranger and big band leader might well be able to claim the longest major recording career in jazz. First recorded in 1939 as a member of Jimmie Lunceford's Orchestra, Gerald Wilson celebrated the release of his most recent CD, Legacy (Mack Avenue, 2011), at the age of 93. He appeared, as ever, in fine form on September 30th at ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Legacy

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The beauty of listening to an orchestra in fine form is like being treated to an oceanic swell of music that rises and falls, creating great harmonic waves of sound. This further regales the intellect with the swish of brushstrokes as the music changes in color, from sometimes thick, dark dripping shades, evoking brooding emotion to the pale and moist shades of elation in an ever-changing palette. Then there are the timbres that refresh the soul and the rhythms that dance as soloists and ensemble engage in endless maneuvers, to bring the music to life. This and so much more ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Detroit

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Commissioned by the Detroit International Jazz Festival and premiered on the occasion of the composer's 91st birthday, Gerald Wilson's six-movement “Detroit Suite" demonstrates that after nearly seven decades in the music business, the nonagenarian composer and arranger still has a great deal to offer in terms of musical creativity. Wilson spent the latter part of his teen years in the Motor City, where he studied trumpet, piano, percussion, and composition at Cass Technical High School from 1934-39, and he still regards Detroit as a “hometown."

The opening “Blues on Belle Isle," which is named for a park on a island ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Monterey Moods

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A decade ago, when he was commissioned to write music to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival, Gerald Wilson produced the memorable, double Grammy Award-nominated Theme for Monterey (MAMA Records,1998). Now the 89-year-old dean of American Jazz composers has scored another triumph, saluting the festival's golden anniversary with a picturesque seven-part suite, Monterey Moods, that musically epitomizes the scope and character of that annual event.

The motif is deceptively simple: a three-note idea used in various ways as the bedrock of each movement (Allegro/Jazz Swing Waltz/Ballad/Latin Swing/Blues/Bass Solo/Hard Swing), much as a single melodic phrase was deftly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time

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The Gerald Wilson Orchestra comes out swinging on this CD, recorded in New York with an all-star cast. From the opening “Sax Chase, Wilson and orchestra wend their way through eight Wilson originals and reworkings of two standards, Miles Davis' “So What and Cole Porter's “Love For Sale. The octogenerian leader pays no attention to the numbers in his age. The music he writes, arranges and conducts is fresh and vital. This is big band music at its best, full of energy and excitement. Much of that is due to the band's personnel and numerous notable solos. ...

INTERVIEWS

Gerald Wilson: In His Time

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At 87, Gerald Wilson casts a long shadow over the history of jazz. His new collection In My Time sizzles with power and joy, as a New York allstar ensemble ignites his dazzling arrangements. His musical associations and friendships catalogue some of the best musicians of the last 60 years: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, Oliver Nelson, Zubin Mehta, the list is endless. He is also a writer, arranger, composer, trumpet player and a popular teacher at UCLA. All About Jazz: How's the new ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time

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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. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time

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Gerald Wilson has contributed prolifically to modern jazz while serving as an educator for generations of practicing musicians. Coming through his bands is like going to college with one eye on the books and one eye on learning things the right way. He's turned out some mighty fine jazz artists in his time, and he's influenced numerous others.

Wilson started out in 1939, performing and arranging for some of the greatest big bands of the era. He started his own big band in Los Angeles in 1944 and has never looked back. Along the way, he's touched us ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson: The Artist Selects

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Blue Note recently launched a series of recordings on which the artist selects the music--called, appropriately enough, “The Artist Selects." Gerald Wilson, who made several strong records for Pacific Jazz in the sixties, gets his due on this compilation. Wilson brings some sentiment into his selections. There is a tune that he wrote for his wife, three that were inspired by his daughters, and four that were the consequence of meeting bullfighters he admired.

Wilson composes uses different styles, and his arrangements place the compositions up front and center. And with big bands featuring some of the finest ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time

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While the question of who's our finest contemporary big band composer/arranger could be debated for days on end without any resolution, there's no doubt about who's the dean. Gerald Wilson, who celebrated his 87th birthday in September, wrote his first chart ("Yard Dog Mazurka ) for the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra circa 1940. In case you're keeping score, that's 65 years ago. That's remarkable enough; what's even more so is that the compositions and arrangements on In My Time, Wilson's second album with his “New York Orchestra for Mack Avenue Records, are as sharp and invigorating as almost anything he has ...

INTERVIEWS

Gerald Wilson

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Gary Walker:The winner and recipient of so many awards that if I listed the mall, we’d be here the whole hour. Nominated six times for a Grammy award. An NEA recipient as a jazz master. His works are ensconced in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. He’s asked for them back by the way... No, he hasn’t. Because he ain’t done yet. They’ve got to make more space. The wonderful bandleader, composer, arranger, orchestrator, educator and energizer, Gerald Wilson is with us his morning. Gerald, thank you for coming down.Gerald Wilson: Well, thank you for having me over to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: New York, New Sound

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Of all of the historic big bands of the ‘40s, none has been more perennially overlooked than that of Gerald Wilson. For those of us on the left coast who wear insecurity on our sleeves like epaulets, the fact that Wilson’s career has primarily been associated with the Los Angeles jazz scene seems explanation enough for this slight. Although little known by the public, however, Wilson’s talent and contributions are well recognized within the jazz community. During his life in music, Wilson has created distinctive arrangements and compositions (both jazz and symphonic) that ensure him a lasting place in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: New York, New Sound

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The great West Coast arranger Gerald Wilson has taken the charts from some of his most popular recordings, brought them to New York, and recorded with a band made up of many widely respected musicians. The result is New York, New Sound on Stix Hooper's Mack Avenue label.

There is good and bad news here. The good news is that the album is terrific. Many jazz fans will be introduced to Wilson's talent through this album, and will seek more. No doubt Gerald Wilson will be in demand because of this album. The bad news is that the New Sound ...

INTERVIEWS

A Fireside Chat With Gerald Wilson

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Within the pages of Central Avenue Sounds, Gerald Wilson recalls, “In February of 1940 I came to Los Angeles with the Jimmie Lunceford band.” He emphasizes, “I’ll never forget that day in February. As I looked out the window of my bunk in the sleeper, I see this beautiful sunshine. We were somewhere like San Bernardino. And I said, ‘Well, this is going to be the place for me.’ And when I got to Los Angeles and I saw how pretty it was, I said, ‘This will be my home.’” How fortunate Los Angeles has been to call host to ...



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