Wilton Gaynair


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Wilton Gaynair was a legend among the jazz musicians who came from Jamaica. He was born (1927) and raised in Kingston and was pals with the McCook brothers and Dizzy Reece, who hired him in 1955 to play his first professional gig outside of Jamaica. In 1982 he recorded his first album under his own name, and he had a stroke in 1983 that left him unable to play. This set was recorded in Germany with a pickup band that included Rob Van Den Broeck and Ali Haurand. Believe it when I say it is the most mainstream recording you're ever going to hear these cats on. The program consists of four Gaynair originals, Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," and two pieces by trumpeter Allan Botschinsky. This is righteous, burning, straight-ahead jazz. Gaynair's tone is somewhere between Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and John Coltrane and he swings hard and lean in his solos. As a bandleader he writes really meaty charts that accent the muscularity of the rhythm section and riff-laden lead lines, such as on "Blues for Erica" or "St. Petrian." One of the most interesting things about the record is that in such an acoustic, Jazz Messengers-like setting, he would choose to let Van Den Broeck use electric keyboards. Some of these solos -- which sound like Pat Metheny guitar solos -- muddy up an otherwise smoking mix, but it's a minor complaint in that this is the only disc this cat ever cut as a leader. Highly recommended.

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