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Many of us jazz fans love them 'bones... trombones, that is. Though they're overshadowed by countless saxophones and trumpets in the jazz arena, when placed in the hands of a capable musician, there's nothing like the instrument's timbre and presence in creating a lasting impression. Edenderry reveals yet another young trombonist who knows how to create sweet music from the unique instrument.
Born in Maryland with extended roots from Jersey to Colorado, Marshall Gilkes moved to New York, where his experience included studying with fellow trombonist Conrad Hedwig, performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Tito Puente, and becoming a finalist in the 2003 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. But the real question is this: can the young man play? And the answer from his trombone is a resounding yes.
What makes this recording special is not only Gilkes' handling of his instrument, but also his well-equipped quartet of pianist John Cowherd (Brian Blade, Liz Wright), bassist Matt Clohesy (Gary Bartz, Ingred Jensen), and drummer Johnathan Blake (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Randy Brecker). With original compositions written by Gilkes and a crew that is primed to perform, the music covers Gilkes' deep pool of influences, done in his own style.
The first selection, "Puddle Jumping, mixes a funky Latin riff that suddenly transforms into rapid hard bop as the rhythm section smoothly handles the changes. Tight solos are handed off from piano to trombone, to drums, then back to the beginning riff with Gilkes giving a clinic in showmanship. His can make his trombone purr, growl, or bite at a second's notice. With a muscular yet rich tone, he steers the group slowly from a ballad to a hip bomba on the "Lost Path, which features a heated dance tempo.
The quartet transitions nicely into more classics sounds of jazz on "This Nearly was Mine and "Gilkean, which recall the sounds of the '60s and show that the young players have done their homework. There is an aura of romanticism on "Dissonancia, with some nice piano and tight work by the superb rhythm section. Each of the players is commendable, with a special nod to the fascinating drumming by Johnathan Blake. The soulful and thoughtful title piece concludes this impressive recording and marks the arrival of Marshall Gilkes as a trombonist/composer to watch and listen for.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.