The Musical Director of the Van Dyke Café, Miami Beach's leading jazz venue, serves the diminutive jazz audiences of South Florida quality music by accompanying various passing guests, as well asperforming with local ensembles, including his own. Figments of My Imagination, his second release under his name, is Don Wilner's latest. Take heed of this Brazilian enthused jazz recording featuring Eric Alexander and Kenny Drew, Jr.
Antonio Carlos Jobim enthusiasts will be happy to find the rest of the compositions in this generously extended release sheathed by four of the noted Brazilian's works. Said four Jobim bookends of the production enclose material from other expected Brazilian authorssuch as Ivan Lins and Djavanas well as not-so-Brazilian onessuch as Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington. They all become conduits for hearty jazz à la Brazil rather than syrupy melodic farea perennial temptation with the richly melodic Carioca repertoireat the hands of Wilner and Co.
Take singer Rose Max. She invigorates the excellent rearrangements in which she participatesunfortunately the credits do not include information about the arrangements or when Drew performs on piano. Those minor quibbles aside, Max's pipes are up to the vocals tasks. On "O Morro Nao Tem Vez and "Incompatibilidade de Genios she sings with swinging and matronly cojones. In "Oceano, "Começar de Novo, and "A Felicidade she's sultry, sensual, romantic and seductive. Her vocalizations reveal tonal strength, humor, fierceness, self-assurance, and beauty.
Bernstein's "Some Other Time is just to die for. Wilner is simply a superb bassist who is quite adept with "the bowing of love on this one. Although he knowledgeably uses the bow on other cuts, his performance here is very emotive. Sad yet hopeful. Nostalgic yet caressingly tender. The pianist, whether it is Mike Orta or Drew, might have overplayed his part here, albeit since it is just a duo, it could be taken as a movingly fortified foil to Wilner's playing. The rumbling tail end of the coda slays me!
Kick-ass interpretations characterize this CD, requiring various listenings to take in everything everyone did and how they interpreted the material.
Track Listing: 1. Mohave (A.C. Jobim) 2. O Morro Nao Tem Vez (A.C. Jobim) 3. Oceano (Djavan) 4. Some Other Time (L. Bernstein) 5. Incompatibilidade de Genios (J. Bosco) 6. On Green Dolphin Street (B. Kaper) 7. In a Sentimental Mood (D. Ellington) 8. You Dont Know What Love Is (G. DePaul) 9. Começar de Novo (AKA The Island-I. Lins) 10. Retrato em Branco e Preto (A.C. Jobim) 11. A Felicidade (A.C. Jobim)
Personnel: Acoustic guitar: Ramatis Moreas. Bass & percussion: Don Wilner. Drums & percussion: Goetz Kujack. Guitar: Bob Devos. Percussion: Sammy Figueroa. Piano: Kenny Drew, Jr. Piano & synthesizer: Mike Orta. Sax: Eric Alexander. Vocals & percussion: Rose Max.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.