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The Paint-Peeler melds together elements of traditional, modern, and free jazz in a mélange of creative energy and expression. Wilkins' compositions and arrangements are full of emotion and intellectual fervor, while his improvisations are first-rate and are constantly being enhanced by the rest of the ensemble. The quintet, consisting of Paul Kendall on saxophones, Tom Kozic on guitar, Tony Marino on bass, and Gary Rissmiller on drums, moves between '60s avant-garde free-improvisation and '50s style swing in a manner that is both seamless and captivating.
Drawing upon influences such as Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, Wilkins' improvisations constantly push the band to new levels of creativity. Whether it's the barn-burning title track or the Evans-influenced slow waltz, "December (As I Would Have It)," there is never a moment where Wilkins sounds uncomfortable or at less than his best. Aside from his soloing, Wilkins is also an exemplary accompanist. His ability to move between a modern-acoustic feel ("Standing in the Wind") and an electric-fusion feel à la Joe Zawinul ("Trappers in the Family") helps to push the other band members to new levels of creativity in their solos.
Not to be outdone, the other members of the quintet are at the top of their game on every tune. Rissmiller's open drum solo on the opening track, "The Paint-Peeler," contains a high-level of energy and musicality that is indicative of his playing on the rest of the album. As well, Kendall's soprano solo on "Bring the Sun" is full of hard-swinging melodic lines and burning bebop vocabulary, both of which make it one of the highlights of the album. Guitarist Kozic's versatility comes through on many of his improvised solos and melody sections. His use of distortion and other guitar effects never sounds forced or out of place, as is sometimes the case, and his ability to build a solo helps provide some of the albums most climactic moments.
The Paint-Peeler is a highly energetic recording that brings together many different genres of jazzfrom bop to funk to free to moderninto a cohesive work that is both expressive and entertaining. Aside from the diversity during the improvised sections, the wide range of compositions helps keep the album moving forward, while giving it a sense of unity at the same time. Though this is not a traditional jazz quintet CD, it is both intellectually stimulating and accessible, while still remaining true to the artists' intent.
Track Listing: The Paint-Peeler; Who's Laughing? (A Father's Lament); Swiftly; December (As I Would Have It); Trappers in the Family; Standing in the Wind (For Daniel); Fabulous; Glow (For Fred Hersch); Bring the Sun (For Liz Drake).
Personnel: Skip Wilkins: piano, keyboards; Paul Kendall: tenor, soprano, baritone saxophones; Tom Kozic: guitars; Tony Marino: bass; Gary Rissmiller: drums.