This is the same crackerjack trio that delivered two volumes of Dave Brubeck classics, artfully freshened with a new coat of musical paint. (Volume One was reviewed here in 2004.) Now, with View So Tender, the group turns its focus to Stevie Wonder, forging a uniquely creative and delightful link between R&B and jazz.
First, a word about the trio itself. Among Joe Gilman's recent accomplishments is winning the 2004 Great American Jazz Piano Competition. His bandmates were barely out of high school when they did the first Brubeck discand if they were terrific then, they're even better now, as the trio has even more assurance, ease and flow. Always desirable traits, they're especially crucial with rhythms as complex as these.
For example, "Sir Duke" is in 9/8 and "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" is "mostly in 7/4, with a bar of 4/4 thrown in every once in awhile for good measure." But this is not random complication: each rhythmic change or reharmonization shines a bold new light on Wonder's timeless melodies, revealing new facets and textures. "I Wish" swings like crazy, as does "Send One Your Love," a personal favorite that gets an update full of affection and respect. Other tunes will be familiar even if their titles are not, like the winsome "Smile, Please," with its gorgeous, uplifting bridge, the funky "Love Light In Flight," and the pulsing "Go Home." I'd never heard the beautiful "Taboo," but then the rumor's always been that Wonder has a huge catalog of unreleased tunes.
Since Volume One of this series contains only nine of the 28 tracks the trio recorded in 2004, we probably have more classy and satisfying recordings to look forward to. In the meantime, this is an exciting start, and a must-hear release for fans of both Wonder and jazz.
I Wish; Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing; Smile Please; That Girl; Sir Duke; Taboo; Send One Your Love; Love Light in Flight; Go Home.
Joe Gilman: piano; Joe Sanders: bass; Justin Brown: drums.
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