Jun 24, 2011
Gerald Wilson is a legend - a premier composer, trumpeter, arranger, bandleader and educator. His work, during his rich and varied seven-decade career, has supported some of the greatest names in jazz including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn and Ray Charles, as well as a scorer for motion pictures and television shows such as Otto Preminger's "Anatomy Of A Murder" and ABC's variety program "The Red Foxx Show." Wilson also scored a top 40 pop hit with El Chicano's version of his song "Viva Torado" in 1971.
Over the past five years, Wilson has been writing extended pieces of music for various cities. 2009’s Detroit won "Record of the Year" at the 2010 JazzWeek Awards, and he has done pieces like Monterey Moods and New York New Sound. He revisits the Windy City for the latest addition to his catalogue. "Yes, Chicago Is..." was commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival, and is a likeable series of sketches that make up most of his latest CD, Legacy.
It’s not too great a criticism to say that "Yes, Chicago Is..." fails to match the sweep and integrated wonder of Detroit. Rather than a fully-formed dramatic piece of music, this is a series of musical sketches – some not terribly well thought out - that allow wonderful musicians to step out and show their stuff. The Gerald Wilson Orchestra for this record includes major talents like pianist Renee Rosnes, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Trumpeters Sean Jones and Jeremy Pelt, and a brass section anchored by Antonio Hart, Ron Blake, and Gary Smulyan. Click Here To Stream Exclusive Tracks From Legacy .
Well into his Nineties, Wilson continues to explore new and different paths for jazz. He has three “Variations On…” pieces here that capture the stateliness of composers like Debussy, fire of Stravinsky and romance of Puccini in fine form.
As symphonic jazz goes, Legacy is a worthy and enjoyable addition to Gerald Wilson’s oeuvre, but fails to reach his earlier heights.