MaxJazz, once touted as a "boutique label," now can boast being a full fledged jazz label with a vision. Beginning with the Vocal Series, then the Piano Series, and now the Horn Series, the label continues to pave new inroads into jazz performance and marketing. Inaugurating the new Horn Series is multi-instrumentalist Steve Wilson. But after listening to this disc, one would think the series should be called "Horn Vocals" (preempting the upcoming "Piano Vocals" series initiated by Patti Wicks). Nevertheless, Mr. Wilson assembles a superb set of songs, singers and players for his debut as a leader on the label.
A good measure of the talent that joins Wilson comes from the Max Jazz roster themselves. "You’re Everything" has Rene Maria singing (also on Abby Lincoln’s "Caged Bird") and Phillip Manuel shows back up on "Wish You Were Here." Never far from the source, Carla Cook sings on "Carla’s Gospel" (a gospel tour de force highlighting Wilson’s soulful flute playing as much as Cook’s vocalizations), written for the singer by Wilson. "Reasons" moves from the vocal venue to the contemporary jazz arena with Bruce Barth on Fender Rhodes." "Wilsonian Alto" is a funky acoustic break with a quartet that is very sleek and cool. This is a very well produced ensemble recording that does not suffer in any way from the trend toward disjointment like many of these recordings do. Highly recommended.
Personnel: Steve Wilson: alto, soprano saxophones, flute; Bruce Barth: piano; Ed Howard: bass; James Genus; bass; Adam Cruz: drums; Billy Kilson: drums; Carla Cook: vocals; Phillip Manuel: vocals; Rene Marie: vocals; Paul Bollenback: guitar; Wilson Corniel: percussion.