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Black Gold Orchestra: Genesis

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Black Gold Orchestra: Genesis
Two years after it was formed by drummer Larry Wilson in 2021, the impressive Atlanta, Georgia-based Black Gold Orchestra has released its debut album, Genesis, a handsome medley of original compositions by Wilson and saxophonist Frank Houston complementing others by Cedar Walton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland and OutKast (a.k.a. Andre Benjamin).

Even though the themes by Walton ("Firm Roots"), Silver ("Nutville") and Earland ("The Creation") are explicit highlights, Wilson's four compositions stand up well beside them, as does Houston's sumptuous "Intoxicating Beauty," on which his earnest tenor saxophone delivers the lone solo. There are three relatively brief interludes, starting with the opening "Gyau" (Walton's Call) for baritone saxophonist Mike Walton and including "In the Beginning" (Erik's Flow) for organist Erik Miller, and "First Sight" (Kenny's Prelude) for pianist Kenny Banks Jr

"Gyau" morphs seamlessly into the first of Walton's originals, the power-laden "On the Move" (solos by Walton on tenor saxophone, trumpeter & music director Melvin Jones, Banks and Wilson), Jones' lively arrangement of "Firm Roots" (Terrence Harper , trumpet; Christopher Burns, trombone; Derrick James, alto saxophone) and Wilson's strapping "Midnight Oil" (Banks; Michael Cruse, trumpet; Rod Harris Jr., guitar). Earland's colorful "The Creation" (crisp solos by Miller and baritone saxophone Jamel Mitchell) is sandwiched between "In the Beginning" and "First Sight." Jones and alto saxophone Mike Burton share the spotlight on OutKast's lyrical "Prototype" and Wilson's animated "Release."

Wilson also wrote the fast-paced "Merging Lanes," and that leads to the irrepressible finale, Silver's "Nutville," which, according to the notes, was arranged by Greg Hopkins and re-arranged by Wilson (presumably to include guest DJ Majestick's special effects, which blend respectably well). There are sharp solos by trombonist Herman Spearman, baritone saxophone Mitchell, bassist Joel Powell and Wilson (who lets it all hang out) on "Lanes," and by Clay Benjamin (guitar) and Wilson (keyboards) on "Nutville."

It is always a pleasure to welcome a new jazz orchestra to the scene, especially one from the southern states—and even more so when it is as well-built and talented as the Black Gold Orchestra. Atlanta is blessed to have these gentlemen residing in its neighborhood.

Track Listing

Gyau (Walton’s Call); On the Move; Firm Roots; Midnight Oil; In the Beginning (Erik’s Flow); The Creation; First Sight (Kenny’s Prelude); Intoxicating Beauty; Prototype; Release; Merging Lanes; Nutville Remix.

Personnel

Black Gold Orchestra
band / ensemble / orchestra
Melvin Jones
trumpet
Additional Instrumentation

Michael Cruse, Terrence Harper, Steven Fowler: trumpet; Mike Walton, Frank Houston, Mike Burton, Derrick James, Jamel Mitchell, Fareed Maluhli: reeds; Wilbert Williams, Derrick White, Herman Spearman, Wilbert Neal, Christopher Burns, Derrick Jackson: trombone; Kenny Banks Jr.: piano; Erik Miller: organ; Rod Harris Jr.: guitar; Joel Powell: bass; Larry Wilson: drums, auxiliary percussion, keyboard (12); DJ Majestick: special effects (12).

Album information

Title: Genesis | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

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