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New York New Sound by Gerald Wilson Orchestra

I am going to call Gerald Wilson the West Coast Duke Ellington. This may not be the most perfect analogy to draw, but it is one that Mr. Wilson is most deserving of. Wilson and Ellington shared with French romantic composer Hector Berlioz, the keen ability to direct bands or orchestras better than they could perform on an instrument. Wilson and Ellington did collaborate, producing the musical relationship that resulted in Ellington performing Wilson’s score for the movie Anatomy of a Murder.

Mr. Wilson proved his prowess as bandleader, composer, and arranger for the past 50 years. During the 1950s, he was one of the most active composer/arrangers and orchestrators in jazz, providing his services for everyone from Ray Charles to Bobby Darin. His recordings defined the parameters of West Coast Big Band sleek, powerful, and skillfully arranged. Hi association with the West Coast has been given responsibility for Wilson’s overall lack of recognition. For the current generation of listeners, New York New Sound, should help remedy that. The 85-year-old Wilson traveled east and assembled an all-star big band to provide the East a sampling of his arranging and compositional abilities. He does so on ten pieces that includes Miles Davis’ modal masterpiece "Milestones" John Coltrane’s interstellar blues "Equinox." On these standards, Wilson builds his intricate scaffolding around the songs, transforming them into Big band anthems. Of his compositions, his Latin pieces, such as "Viva Tirado" and "M Capetillo" standout with tasteful orchestration, never overbearing. The lengthiest piece, "Theme for Monterey" allows Wilson and the band to stretch out, showcasing his arranging talents and the talents of Jesse Davis on alto saxophone and Anthony Wilson on guitar.

Overall, Mr. Wilson allows the superb pianists Kenny Barron and Renee Rosnes perhaps the greatest room with which to work, though all members of this very fine band do shine.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gerald Wilson Orchestra
  • CD Title: New York New Sound
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Mack Avenue Records
  • Tracks: Milestones; Blues For The Count; Equinox; Viva Tirado; Teri; Blues For Yna Yna; Theme For Monterey; M Capetillo; Josefina; Nancy Jo.
  • Musicians: Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Owens, Eddie Henderson, Frank Green, Seant Jones—Trumpets; Beny Powell, Luis Bonilla, Dennis Wilson, Douglas Purviance—Trombones; Jimmy Heath, Frank Wes, Jesse Davis, Jerry Dodgion, Jay Brandford—Saxophones; Kenny Barron, Renee Rosnes—Piano; Anthony Wilson, Oscar Castro-Neves—Guitars; Larry Ridley, Trey Henry, Bob Cranshaw—Bass; Lewis Nash, Stix Hooper—Drums, Lenny Castro—Percussion.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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