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Jack Wilkins: Windows

Chris May By

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Guitarist Jack Wilkins' debut on producer Bob Shad's Mainstream label lay gathering dust for almost forty-five years before being reissued on CD by Solid Records in 2017. That disc, and now WeWantSounds' 2018 vinyl edition, have restored to general circulation an album that can be filed alongside such mid-twentieth century jazz-guitar gems as Johnny Smith's Moonlight In Vermont (Roost, 1956), Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960) and Grant Green's Idle Moments (Blue Note, 1964), from each of which Windows suggests Wilkins drew inspiration.

The cause of Windows' long spell in purgatory was that following Bob Shad's passing in 1985, Mainstream was acquired by Sony, who sat on it for decades. This despite the fact that Mainstream's spiritual-jazz / freedom-jazz catalogue is on a par with those of its contemporaries Strata-East, Impulse and Muse. Sony's inaction was a crime against jazz. Things only picked up when Shad's grandson, film-maker Judd Apatow, bought back the rights and licensed Solid's and WeWantSounds' reissue programmes.

Windows began to develop cult status with a new generation of listeners in 1993, when A Tribe Called Quest included a sample of the album's slow-funk Freddie Hubbard cover, "Red Clay," on Midnight Marauders (Jive). On the other tracks, Wilkins blends Johnny Smith's chordal improvising, Wes Montgomery's parallel-octave runs and the languorous single-note runs Green brought to ballads. The material includes Chick Corea's title track, Wayne Shorter's "Pinocchio" and John Coltrane's "Naima." The other two tracks, the furiously paced "Canzona" and gorgeous acoustic-guitar feature "Song For The Last Act," are originals by Mike Moore, bassist on the session.

Windows cannot be said to have broken any new ground, but it dug deep into previously charted territory and it still makes for glorious listening. Its reissue is a major event. So too are WeWantSounds' other Mainstream releases—Buddy Terry's Awareness (1971), Harold Land's A New Shade Of Blue (1971) and a couple of various artists compilations including the outstanding Innerpeace: Rare Spiritual Funk And Jazz Gems: The Supreme Sound Of Bob Shad (1971-1974). These discs have previously been reviewed here. Hopefully, many more reissues will follow.

Track Listing: Side A: Windows; Naima; Canzona. Side B: Pinocchio; Red Clay; Song For The Last Act.

Personnel: Jack Wilkins: electric guitar (A1-3, B1, B2), acoustic guitar (B3); Mike Moore: acoustic bass (A1-3, B1, B3), Fender bass (B2); Bill Goodwin: drums, percussion.

Title: Windows | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: WEWANTSOUNDS

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