Guitarist Anthony Wilson, whose debut was nominated last year for a Grammy Award, has neatly sidestepped the sophomore jinx on his latest release for the MAMA Foundation thanks to his creative writing and steadfast support from his New York-based sidemen. This one's in a somewhat funkier groove than Wilson's earlier effort with pianist Mike LeDonne playing Hammond B-3 on two selections ("W-2 Blues," Tadd Dameron's "Flossie Lou") and guest Bennie Wallace squealing like a disconcerted Texas tenor on "Stairway to the Stars" and his own composition, "It Has Happened to Me." When it comes to age, the 30-year-old Wilson is an equal-opportunity employer, blending old hands (Wallace, Art Baron, Jerry Dodgion, Ted Nash, Joe Temperley) and fresh young faces (LeDonne, John D'Earth, Danton Ballard, Jeff Bollard) in a consistently appetizing banquet for the ears. As befits the son of bandleader Gerald Wilson, Anthony is an accomplished songwriter, and each of his compositions for this session - "W-2 Blues," "The Cherry Tree," "Georgia Waltz" and "Hell's Belles" - is substantive and appealing. HIs arrangements also shimmer, especially the interesting treatment of "Here's That Rainy Day" whose melody is developed almost in fragments by the ensemble as Wilson and Nash (on tenor) solo and Ballard offers an Astaire-like "soft-shoe routine" with brushes. "Blues," which opens the set, includes straight-ahead picking by Wilson, Baron's assertive trombone solo and nice open trumpet by D'Earth. "Cherry Tree" is a melodic medium-tempo swinger that features Wilson, LeDonne and D'Earth again. "Georgia," which begins and ends as a waltz and shifts to straight 4/4 in midflight for fast-paced solos by Wilson and Nash (on alto), precedes the tango "Hell's Belles," which must have greatly pleased Anthony's dad, no slouch himself when it comes to writing in a Latin vein. Baron's muted trombone states the melody, and Wilson plays flamenco guitar before he and Baron solo in a more conventional mode. "Flossie Lou" is yet another highlight, its catchy bop-based tune punctuated by admirable solo work from Temperley (who sounds as though he may have been having a minor reed problem), LeDonne at the B-3, Wilson and Nash, this time on clarinet (where he might give even Buddy DeFranco a run for his money). While I mean no offense, I do find Wallace's note-hopping, over-the-top style singularly unappealing - although he fares marginally better on the ballad, "Stairway to the Stars" (in a sort of Lew Tabackin-like reading) than on "It Has Happened." Others, however, may consider Wallace's appearances an impassioned focal point. In either case, Goat Hill Junket, named for the block in Manhattan where young Wilson lived in the early '90s, is a clear winner, showing that sometimes you can indeed go home again to seize the palm.
W-2 Blues; Here's That Rainy Day; The Cherry Tree; It Has Happened to Me; Georgia Waltz; Hell's Belles; Flossie Lou; Stairway to the Stars (64:04).
Anthony Wilson, guitar; John D'Earth, trumpet; Art Baron, trombone; Jerry Dodgion, Ted Nash, Joe Temperley, reeds; Mike LeDonne, piano, B-3 organ; Danton Boller, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums; guest artist Bennie Wallace, tenor sax ("Stairway to the Stars," "It Has Happened to Me").
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.