Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

104

Dan Wilensky: Back In The Mix

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Thirteen years separated the release of tenor saxophonist Dan Wilensky's first two albums— And Then Some (Speechless, 1997) and If You Only Knew (Speechless, 2010)—but the saxophonist wasn't sitting around idly during that stretch of time. Wilensky's work as a session player, touring musician, author, and educator kept him beyond busy, yet his own music suffered as a result. Thankfully, the saxophonist has been focusing his efforts on being a leader since 2009, and the resultant albums released since that time have been consistently engaging. He started the ball rolling with If You Only Knew and followed it up with the wide-ranging, humor-laced Group Therapy (Speechless, 2011). Now, less than a year after his previous release, Wilensky returns with the appropriately titled Back In The Mix.

Wilensky's balance of originals to covers, and his use of the same rhythm team from Group Therapy, may lead some to believe that this is more of the same, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The decision to switch from a guitar-supported format to a piano-based quartet, with pianist Mark Soskin—of Sonny Rollins sideman fame—manning the keys, completely changes the character of the music. Add to that, the presence of trumpeter Russ Johnson on four tracks, and a more measured approach to the music, and you have a completely different—but no less impressive—package.

The album opens with the bristling title track, which showcases Wilensky, Johnson and Soskin as soloists, while drummer Tony Moreno's drumming and four-on-the-floor hi-hat—à la Tony Williams—spurs them on from below, but the leader quickly turns his attention elsewhere. "Hand In Hand" marries a Herbie Hancock-like vibe and cool, breezy melody with an easygoing groove, "Just Happy" sizzles with a pseudo-samba foundation, while "Falling In Love With Love" finds the group in fine, swinging form. In other places, as on J.J. Johnson's "Lament," the oft-covered "Tenderly" and the soulful "After All Is Said And Done," Wilensky opens up and allows everybody to see the sensitive side of his artistry, which adds another dimension to the music.

Viewed on its own merits Back In The Mix is a strong album from a true original but, in a broader sense, it proves to be the final piece of the aural triptych that marks the triumphant return of Dan Wilensky.

Track Listing: Back In The Mix; Hand In Hand; Tenderly; Here; Just Happy; Lament; Falling In Love With Love; Kenai; After All Is Said And Done.

Personnel: Dan Wilensky: tenor saxophone; Mark Soskin: piano; Dean Johnson: bass; Tony Moreno: drums; Russ Johnson: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 7).

Title: Back In The Mix | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "The Willisau Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Willisau Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "The Bug" CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Araminta" CD/LP/Track Review Araminta
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "Soul Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Soul Trio
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Dreamsville" CD/LP/Track Review Dreamsville
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Wake Up Call" CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017