Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

234

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Legacy

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Legacy The beauty of listening to an orchestra in fine form is like being treated to an oceanic swell of music that rises and falls, creating great harmonic waves of sound. This further regales the intellect with the swish of brushstrokes as the music changes in color, from sometimes thick, dark dripping shades, evoking brooding emotion to the pale and moist shades of elation in an ever-changing palette. Then there are the timbres that refresh the soul and the rhythms that dance as soloists and ensemble engage in endless maneuvers, to bring the music to life. This and so much more is something to that flows effortlessly and endlessly from the Gerald Wilson Orchestra on Legacy. The vibrant force of the music is unstoppable, as Wilson draws music from the soul of each member of his ensemble.

Aside from the sophistication of the music—putting it in a stellar region all its own—Wilson digs ever so deeply into his own heart and soul, and finds the magical element of the blues in its most visceral and elemental form. That and the almost vanishing aspect of great jazz: swing. So whether he is paying homage to one of his fellow-musicians, albeit from another era—Igor Stravinsky, or Giacomo Puccini or Claude Debussy—Wilson calls up the swagger and wickedly sensuous swish of rhythmic swing. Like the other masters of the attitudinal strut, Duke Ellington, his old mentor, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie and a handful of others, Wilson can make music dally almost languorously and yet move up and down and side to side in a hip-grinding manner. He is that young of heart.

With a handful of notes, a few bars of music tossed in the air like an expert juggler, Wilson creates sweeping sketches of impressionistic beauty in each case. The bone-crunching thunder of his "Variations on a Theme by Igor Stravinsky" is followed closely by an exquisitely complex wave of harmonic majesty in his homage to Debussy in "Variations on Clair de Lune." The deepest of emotion and painter-like brush-strokes are reserved for the Puccini impression. In all of these pieces, Wilson's joyous character is retained, as he makes the music of his ancestors meld with the Europeans, like an expert alchemist working the brass in bright bronzed shades, and hammering the metal into submitting to sheets of sound, tempered by virtuoso rhythm. No credit is given to soloists here, and the breaks are short, but the pirouetting cadenzas, but the technical virtuosity and the deep emotion of each are unparalleled.

Guitarist Anthony Wilson contributes "Virgo," a muscular, yet pliant and soaring piece that mimics the constellation. Eric Otis seems in tune with the magic and mystery of brassy musical alchemy in the wonderfully crafted "September Sky." But it is the unstoppable "Yes Chicago Is... (Suite)" that is ultimately the centerpiece. Legacy is a heartfelt homage to a city that has clearly touched Wilson to his very soul; one that he wants enshrined in gorgeous, joyful music.


Track Listing: Variation on a Theme by Igor Stravinsky; Virgo; Variations on Clair de Lune; Variation on a Theme by Giacomo Puccini; September Sky; Yes Chicago Is... (Suite): A Jazz Mecca; A Night at the El Grotto; Riffin' at the Regal; Cubs, Bears, Bulls and White Sox; 47th Street Blues; Blowin' in The Windy City; A Great Place To Be.

Personnel: Gerald Wilson: conductor; Lewis Nash: drums; Renee Rosnes: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Antonio Hart: alto saxophone, flute; Dick Oatts: alto saxophone, flute; Kamasi Washington: tenor saxophone; Ron Blake: tenor saxophone; Jay Brandford: baritone saxophone; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Frank Greene: trumpet, flugelhorn; Sean Jones: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Lujan: trumpet, flugelhorn; Freddie Hendrix: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Rodriguez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dennis Wilson: trombone; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Douglas Purviance: trombone.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
Read "Ever Up & Onward" CD/LP/Track Review Ever Up & Onward
Read "A New One" CD/LP/Track Review A New One
Read "Joyride" CD/LP/Track Review Joyride
Read "Oakland/Lisboa" CD/LP/Track Review Oakland/Lisboa

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!