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Gerald Wilson has contributed prolifically to modern jazz while serving as an educator for generations of practicing musicians. Coming through his bands is like going to college with one eye on the books and one eye on learning things the right way. He's turned out some mighty fine jazz artists in his time, and he's influenced numerous others.
Wilson started out in 1939, performing and arranging for some of the greatest big bands of the era. He started his own big band in Los Angeles in 1944 and has never looked back. Along the way, he's touched us all. He taught jazz history at the California State University in Northridge for thirteen years and at the California State University in Los Angeles for six years, and he still teaches at UCLA. At 87, he's not about to slow down.
In My Time features several burning originals that drive with a straight-ahead power, one new Spanish-tinged celebration, a lovely suite that was commissioned by the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz, several passionate pieces, and two standards that feature trumpeter Jimmy Owens.
Owens and Wilson go way back. It was Jimmy Owens who first brought "Carlos" to the public in the 1960s. Jerry Dodgion and Wilson also share a long history. You can hear his alto leading the arrangement of "Love for Sale" on In My Time. It's the same arrangement that Wilson penned for Dodgion in 1953. Near the close, when Dodgion and Owens converse with brief solos, it's like a family reunion.
The high point of the album comes with "Lomelin," which is dedicated to bullfighter Antonio Lomelin. Here, Jon Faddis brings out all the majesty that is associated with such a theme, as he connotes bravery, strength, and unwavering concentration through his mighty trumpet feature. The mood changes from deliberate and staunch to loose and fast, then back. With his usual acumen, Wilson is telling a story through his composition. And somehow, he's always had the right players to interpret his arrangements in the most suitable manner.
Track Listing: Sax Chase; The Diminished Triangle (Dorian; Ray's Vision at the U; Blues for Manhattan); Lomelin; A.E.N.; Musette; So What; Love for Sale; Jeri.
Personnel: Gerald Wilson: conductor, arranger; Jon Faddis, Frank Greene, Jimmy Owen, Jeremy Pelt, Eddie Henderson, Mike Rodriguez, Sean Jones: trumpet; Benny Powell, Dennis Wilson, Luis Bonilla: trombone; Douglas Purviance: bass trombone; Dustin Cicero: alto saxophone; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, flute; Jerry Dodgion: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Kamasi Washington: tenor saxophone; Ron Blake: tenor saxophone, flute; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Russell Malone: guitar; Renee Rosnes: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.
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.