1,219

Gerald Wilson Orchestra / Dallas Original Jazz Orchestra / University of North Texas Two O'Clock Lab Band

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Gerald Wilson Orchestra
Detroit
Mack Avenue Records
2009

Composer / arranger / ageless wonder Gerald Wilson, most of whose recent albums (Monterey Moods; New York, New Sound; Theme for Monterey; State Street Sweet) have been built around sectional themes, returns "home" on Detroit to paint an earnest musical portrait of his adopted city, one that not only spawned the nation's auto industry but has produced a wealth of renowned jazz musicians from the Jones brothers (Elvin, Thad, Hank) to Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Pepper Adams, Betty Carter, Paul Chambers, Billy Mitchell, Curtis Fuller, Yusef Lateef, Dorothy Ashby and many others.

Even though he was born in Mississippi, Wilson's family moved to Detroit when he was quite young, and he was graduated from Cass Tech High School, once known far and wide for its exemplary music programs. It was from Detroit that Wilson launched his career with the Jimmie Lunceford Band, and the rest, as they say, is history. Wilson has been composing and arranging almost ever since, and the NEA Jazz Master and "Living Jazz Legend" has half a dozen Grammy Award nominations to his credit.

What is most remarkable, as epitomized on Detroit, is that, at age ninety-one, Wilson hasn't lost a step when it comes to writing sharp and exhilarating big-band charts. After framing a carefree mood with the snappy "Blues on Belle Isle," Wilson salutes his alma mater with "Cass Tech," a straight-on swinger with a sunny piano intro by Brian O'Rourke and pleasing solos by son Anthony Wilson on guitar, tenor Kamasi Washington and guest trumpeter Sean Jones. These are the first movements in the six-part Detroit Suite, performed by Wilson's Los Angeles Band; the last two (unrelated) numbers, "Everywhere" and "Aram," showcase his New York Band with guest flautist Hubert Laws brightening the landscape on "Everywhere."

"Detroit" weaves its spell with easygoing grace, "Miss Gretchen" demurely unveils her loveliness before cutting loose, "Before Motown" is bold and sassy (with apposite solos by Jones, O'Rourke, Washington, fellow tenor Louis Van Taylor, trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez and trombonist Les Benedict), after which the turbulent "Detroit River" engulfs the listener in a tidal wave of big-band bravado enhanced by O'Rourke, Anthony Wilson, Van Taylor, trumpeters Jones and Ron Barrow, soprano Jackie Kelso, trombonist Eric Jorgensen and violinist Yvette Devereaux (more than window dressing; she really swings, whether in the "River" or on "Belle Isle").

Washington, Jones and Anthony Wilson solo with the always-inspiring Laws and an unnamed trombonist on the mid-tempo charmer "Everywhere," while trumpeter Terell Stafford and alto Antonio Hart relish their moment in the sun on the colorful "Aram." Gerald Wilson has been and remains a marvel, and Detroit warrants a place among his finest works for big band. Would anyone care to wager against raising the ante to seven Grammy nominations?


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul University Jazz Ensemble / Steve Taylor Big Band Big Band Caravan Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul...
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 11, 2012
Read R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire...
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2012
Read Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni Big Band / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni...
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 9, 2012
Read Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band / DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 7, 2012
Read James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz...
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 12, 2012
Read "Anat Cohen at Davidson College" Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Meet Donna M." Out and About: The Super Fans Meet Donna M.
by Tessa Souter and Andrea Wolper
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil – 1964" My Blue Note Obsession Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil – 1964
by Marc Davis
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Christmas 2016 II:  Contemporary" Bailey's Bundles Christmas 2016 II: Contemporary
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Charles Lloyd: The Winds Of Grace" Interview Charles Lloyd: The Winds Of Grace
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 14, 2017
Read "Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2" Live Reviews Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 30, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor