The album artwork looks more conducive for video game fare, but trumpeter Scott Wilson who heads the jazz program at the University of Florida directs this hip nonet through a rather stout course of action. At times, the ensemble sparks memories of early jazz fusion, back in the day when even jazz musicians had shoulder length hair and would occasionally flash a peace sign. And the audio processing instills a compact and resonating soundstage with some degree of compression, tendering a stylization that is sort of a throwback to the ballsy, in-your-face jazz of the '70s. But the leader fuses a contempo vibe on this program, containing originals and modern jazz classics.
Wilson also plays the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) which is an 8-octave wind controller popularized by saxophonists Michael Brecker and Tom Scott and created by Nyle Steiner in 1975. Armed with a fierce, in-your-face mode of attack via spry horn arrangements, stinging guitars, resonating electric keys, and punchy in-the-pocket grooves, the musical portraiture also includes memorable hooks and strapping theme-building episodes. The musicians often operate within straight-four cadences, amid staggered deviations and snazzy breakouts. Wilson's gallant and zinging solos are nicely offset by Chris Rottmayer's crisp Fender Rhodes phrasings and Richy Stano's distortion-laden guitar lines. But they also generate warmth, while always maintaining a strong sense of direction with a few streamlined horn arrangements, abetted by the frontline's spirited solos.
The band dishes out hummable motifs and perky Latin jazz vamps while executing a breezy, sentimental storyline on Hank Mobley's "Home at Last." Here, the saxophonists drive the momentum with contrasting statements atop a bubbly rock pulse. Yet they come right at you during their layered, harmonious and guileful rendition of Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me." In sum, the ensemble bridges impressive chops, strong compositions, excitable soloing activities and hearty arrangements into a sustainable and immensely entertaining schema.
Track Listing: Kackle Jackle; View for Kings; Voodoo Dance; Kiss That Told Me; Green
Bird; Lonnie’s Lament; Home at Last; Recorda Me; Needing You.
Personnel: Keith Wilson: Zen drums, drums; Chris Rottmayer: keyboards; Chuck
Archard: bass; Scott Wilson: trumpet and Electronic Valve Instrument
(EVI); Tom Dietz: tenor saxophone; Kevin Hicks: trombone; Chris Davis:
strings and effects; Jaydon Bean: drums (1, 3, 7, 8, 9); Richy Stano: