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Rob Wilkerson

With saxophonist Rob Wilkerson’s group, you are as likely to hear a tune by Elliott Smith or Coldplay as a jazz standard. Rob’s original music acts as the central force, blending seemingly disparate elements in a cohesive “other.” Imaginary Landscape, Rob’s debut album on the Fresh Sound New Talent label, reflects his diverse influences, and was deemed worthy of several “best of 2004” lists. As an improviser and composer, Rob is deeply interested in melody and mood; harmony serves these considerations, rather than dictating them. In the words of Marc Meyers (All About Jazz), “…Rob Wilkerson speaks to our times. His music is personal, profound, and thoroughly refreshing.”

A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rob was born on September 27th, 1973 and began playing the alto saxophone in elementary school. Rob dedicated himself and quickly grew to become one of the state's best young musicians, earning many awards and playing professionally in local dance, jazz and salsa bands. Continuing his formal education, Rob pursued and completed a degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of New Mexico.

After graduating from UNM, Rob accepted a fellowship to pursue his master's degree in jazz studies at the University of North Texas. Rob played lead alto in the One O'Clock Lab Band and the Repertory Ensemble at UNT. He also taught a full studio of undergraduate and graduate saxophone students and freelanced around the Dallas area. A year-long opportunity to teach saxophone studio and jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater brought Rob to the Midwest, where he played regularly in the Chicago and Milwaukee area. He was also a founding member of the popular Midwest organ quartet Organgrinder, including Downbeat "rising star" honoree Dan Trudell.

Based in New York City since 2001, Rob leads his eponymous group, composes, and performs with both small and large jazz ensembles. In addition to performing his own original music, he is an active member of the Yumiko Sunami Big Band, the composer consortium Pulse, Schumacher/Sanford Sound Assembly, Darcy James Argue Jazz Orchestra, Russ Spiegel Big Band, Pablo Mayor’s Folklore Urbano, and is a regular guest with several small ensembles. Rob has played with musicians both contemporary and legendary, including Joe Lovano, Jim McNeely, James Moody, Jon Gordon, Randy Johnston, and Chris Cheek. Rob is currently touring with singer Michael Buble.

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Album Review

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension

Read "Dynamic Maximum Tension" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi


Precursore nel 2009 (con l'innovativo Infernal Machines) del nuovo rinascimento orchestrale nel jazz, Darcy James Argue approda all'etichetta Nonesuch e pubblica il nuovo album in studio: un doppio CD realizzato con i consueti partner della Secret Society più l'aggiunta della cantante Cecile McLorin Salvant e della violinista Sara Caswell. A differenza degli ultimi due dischi, Dynamic Maximum Tension non è un'opera multimediale ma conserva la spinta visionaria animata dalla costante riflessione socio-politica. Spinta che si traduce in ...

6
Album Review

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension

Read "Dynamic Maximum Tension" reviewed by Katchie Cartwright


Darcy James Argue's superb double-album Nonesuch debut offers compositions written throughout his career. He turns to twentieth-century thinkers for “ideas that can help us in the present, that we can reexamine and reconfigure for our own purposes." These include futurist designer Buckminster Fuller, cryptanalyst-computer scientist Alan Turing, composer-arranger Bob Brookmeyer, actress-screenwriter Mae West, trumpeter-mentor Laurie Frink, and musician-beyond-category Duke Ellington, among others. Like West, Argue seems to control his own path. He may not yet be the tycoon she was, ...

7
Album Review

Jihye Lee: Daring Mind

Read "Daring Mind" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Korean-born composer Jihye Lee is a musician who knows her own mind, whether it be relentless, unshakable, revived, dissatisfied or Daring, as on her second recording for Motema Records. In 2018, Lee earned the prestigious BMI Charlie Parker Composition Prize for “Unshakable Mind," one of nine diverse themes presented here. Another, “I Dare You," is loosely based on Wayne Shorter's response when asked, “What is jazz?" It is a question Lee must also address, as her music is not only ...

Album Review

Jihye Lee: Daring Mind

Read "Daring Mind" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi


Solo un talento eccezionale come Jihye Lee poteva ottenere risultati così brillanti e personali nel campo dell'orchestrazione jazz partendo quasi da zero. Nata a Seoul ed emigrata negli Stati Uniti da adolescente, quando s'iscrisse al Berklee College conosceva pochissimo il linguaggio musicale afro-americano e per niente la sua dimensione orchestrale. Dopo un decennio, studi di perfezionamento alla Manhattan School of Music col grande Jim McNeely (a cui va riconosciuto parte del merito) e un primo eccellente debutto (April, 2017), la ...

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Album Review

Schapiro 17: Human Qualities

Read "Human Qualities" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Following its splendid premiere recording, an exploration of Miles Davis' unrivaled album Kind Of Blue (Capitol Records, 1959), composer/arranger Jon Schapiro's 17-member ensemble broadens its horizons on Human Qualities, pairing seven of the maestro's astute and adventurous charts with the Roberta Flack best-seller, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." This time around, Schapiro proves that he need rely on nothing more than his own considerable experience as a jazz artist to create an album that expresses his point ...

5
Album Review

Jihye Lee Orchestra: Daring Mind

Read "Daring Mind" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic


Listening to bandleader/composer Jihye Lee and her mic-drop orchestra is like watching your life flash before your eyes. You see it all: All the richness of spirit one can attain. All the sadness one can espouse. All the waltzing mischief to which one can aspire. Testing malleability at every turn, Lee's on to an eclectic something that doesn't pass through the torpor too often: A lucid, active imagination. Thus Daring Mind, Lee's Motema Music debut, co-produced by Darcy ...

5
Album Review

Schapiro 17: New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60

Read "New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60" reviewed by Jerome Wilson


Miles Davis' album Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959) is the best-selling jazz album of all time and has been highly influential for the last 60 years. Most of its five tracks have become jazz standards and have been interpreted time and again. However it is rare to see the entire album reworked to the extent that Jon Schapiro and his big band, Schapiro 17, do here. The tracks undergo extensive retooling, expanding into big band arrangements that carry on the ...

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Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Dynamic Maximum...

Nonesuch Records
2023

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Daring Mind

Motéma Music
2021

buy

Human Qualities

Summit Records
2021

buy

New Shoes: Kind of...

Summit Records
2020

buy

Revived Mind

From: Daring Mind
By Rob Wilkerson

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