Anthony Wilson, the son of Gerald Wilsonand Diana Krall's guitarist for quite a whilehas been gradually making a name for himself with each of his releases, of which The Power Of Nine is the sixth.
Increasing his forces to a nonet, Wilson has created an album of interesting arrangements and many beautiful sounds, blending the brass and reeds expertly. The beginning of the record sounds like standard fare, starting with a straightforward mid-tempo Duke Pearson tune, "Make It Good," which leads to two slow ballads, "I And Thou" and Jimmy Rowles' "Looking Back," which features a guest vocal by Diana Krall. Wilson also seems to hold back on his guitar playing.
After the first three tunes, though, we enter the meat of the album, the four "Quadras," which take the interest level way up, especially numbers three and fourwhere Wilson as a guitarist, rather than only composer/arranger, begins to come forward. Perhaps he is pushed by Eva Scow, who plays some killer mandolin solos that are full of harmonic surprises and interesting phrasing. Brazilian rhythms also begin make their presence felt as the arrangement gets denser and more forceful.
By the time "Quadra 4" starts, Wilson has most definitely made an impression. The use of the nonet's members as distinct voices or voice groups playing against each other rather than just atmospheric, floating background chords, is now clear, and the energy keeps rising. "Amalgamation" starts off by taking a breath, but then also builds, and Wilson finally takes a very fine extended solo. The next track, "Melatonin Dream," which is from a suite of tunes meant to characterize a traveling musician losing connection to place and time, is an extended jazz tone poem with a dramatic arch that pulls the listener along.
After taking another breath with the beautiful "Hymn," Wilson shows his quite impressive chops and interesting ideas on the title tune, "Power Of Nine." Each member of the band gets a chance to blow with minimal accompanimentand to a man, they take advantage of the freedom, and the track cooks. The disc has a track not listed on the liner, the Monkish "Bird In A Basket," in honor of Charlie Parker returning to the jazz scene in Los Angeles.
An interesting comparison can be made between Wilson's Power Of Nine and Alan Ferber's nonet record, Scenes From An Exit Row (FSNT, 2005). Ferber plays on this record, and while one cannot be sure, he might be an influence on Wilson (or vice versa, for that matter).
Track Listing: Make It Good; I And Though (from Tokyo Wednesday); Looking Back; Quadra 1 (Ano Novo); Quadra 2 (Vila Madalena); Quadra 3 (Coisinha); Quadra 4 (Javali Witness); Amalgamation; Melatonin Dream (from Tokyo Wednesday); Hymn; Power Of Nine.
Personnel: Anthony Wilson: guitar; Diana Krall: vocal (3); Eva Scow: mandolin (6,7); Adam Scroeder: baritone saxophone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Mark Ferber: drums; Matt Otto: tenor saxophone; Matt Zebley: alto and soprano saxophone; Gilbert Castellanos: trumpet; Donald Vega: piano; Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz: bass.