(Wilson, guitar; Diana Krall, vocal on Looking Back; Eva Scow, mandolin on two tracks; Adam Schroeder, baritone sax; Alan Ferber, trombone; Mark Ferber, drums; Matt Otto, tenor sax; Matt Zebley, alto & soprano sax; Gilbert Castellanos, trumpet; Donald Vega, piano; Darek Oles Oleszkiewicz, bass)
After having turned out two highly acclaimed trio albums for Groove Note, Wilson – son of band leader/composer Gerald Wilson – expands his horizons to a nonet and mostly his original compositions, which subdue his guitar-playing to a cooperative role in the group’s sound. He also brings in friend Diana Krall for a nostalgic ballad written by the late Jimmy Rowles, with whom she had studied. At the center of the 11 or 12 tracks is a suite by Wilson titled Quadra, with four separate sections. The word comes from the Portuguese, and a sultry Brazilian flavor is heard in the pieces. He brings in swinging mandolinist Eva Scow on two of them to wonderful effect. Two other tracks are from a suite he penned titled Tokyo Wednesday, which refers to the strains and confusions of an international tour: “Barcelona Monday; Tokyo Wednesday, etc.” Another two tracks are taken from a suite Wilson was asked to write as a West Coast answer to Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool. One commemorates the historic amalgamation of the two racially segregated musicians’ unions in LA into one. The lengthiest track is the very laid back Melatonin Dream – a seductive and atmospheric 11 minutes. The groove pursued by the combination of Wilson’s guitar and Vega’s piano is a nice feature of many tracks.
The reason I listed 11 or 12 tracks is that if you’re in no hurry and just let the disc play after the end of the 11th track, you’ll find after a long pause you get a hidden “Easter egg” of a five-minute-length track that’s very nice – though I have no idea of the title since it’s not mentioned anywhere. The multichannel recording was made in Hollywood and the producer was Joe Harley, known for his many audiophile-level jazz and blues recordings for labels such as Audioquest and JVC. The sense of being right there in the studio with the nonet is strong; who would want to experience only the stereo SACD mix of this disc – good as it is – when there’s the surround sound option?
(Tracklist: Make It Good, I and Thou, Looking Back, Quadra 1 (Ano Novo), Quadra 2 (Vila Madalena), Quadra 3 (Coisinha), Quadra 4 (Javali Witness), Amalgamation, Melatonin Dream, Hymn, Power of Nine, bonus track
– John Henry