We have all heard the old adage, "if walls could only talk.... " Perhaps in music they do! Almost everyone has heard the classic Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven," or at least one cut off Prince’s Purple Rain release. No! What about James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James? OK, the Who, Elton John, The Doors and for a more current name, what about Beck’s Odelay? My point is that all of these artists have recorded at Sunset Sound Studios and we have been hearing those four wall influence and reverberate in the music for many years. Guitarist and composer Anthony Wilson recently added his vibrations to those walls while recording his new release entitled, Power of Nine.
Wilson, probably best know for his accompaniment and solo’s on Diana Krall’s CDs and DVDs, is also an accomplished composer and arranger. Wilson won the Thelonious Monk International Composers’ Composition in 1995 and has been commissioned to compose works by the Gil Evans Fellowship from the International Association of Jazz Educators, Kuumbwa Jazz Center and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Wilson includes selections from those commissions with the addition of some new compositions paired with two standards to total the 11 selections contained on Power of Nine. Diana Krall provides the vocals for a beautiful arrangement of "Looking Back," again displaying her prowess as a balladeer.
The CD is full of rich thematic developments and beautiful voiced ensemble colors, bringing to mind the colors of Gil Evans and Maria Schneider. "Make It Good" is perhaps the most traditional selection, with Wilson providing the arrangement and some nice "Freddie Green" chunking. This selection has a more Bob Brookmeyer, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis flavor than the rest of the selections and does a nice job of easing the listener into the program. "I And Thou," from Tokyo Wednesday, one of the movements from the commission written for The Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, California, features an intro of Wilson’s rich clear unaccompanied guitar leading to an introspective ballad that is full of gorgeous ensemble colors and thoughtful space. Wilson’s "Quadra 3" contains some very nice improvised lines from mandolinist Eva Scow and Wilson as the two trade 16’s in the beginning and again later in the piece after Wilson has craftily flowed the composition from a straight eight sixteenth note pulse feel to a nice Samba feel.Anthony Wilson’s Power of Nine has a very even and enjoyable flow and coming from Sunset Sound Studios means the sound quality is excellent. The CD has a wide range of colors and feels. The playing is all top shell with the compositions and arrangements being extremely inventive and thematic in nature. However, they should be very accessible by a wide audience with varying degrees of both jazz and non-jazz musical tastes. Furthermore, this CD is a must have if you are into the power of the pen in jazz.