Don Wilkerson

Shoutin'

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Don Wilkerson's final album, Shoutin', found him returning to the confines of a quartet, which actually liberated his playing. Without the competition provided from a trumpeter, Wilkerson has plenty of room to roam, and he needs it -- he was one of the most forceful and full-bodied tenor saxophonists in soul-jazz during the '60s. Throughout Shoutin', he impresses with his ability to switch between rich, graceful ballads and hard-hitting, hard-driving blues and R&B. Fortunately, he's supported by an excellent trio -- guitarist Grant Green, organist John Patton, drummer Ben Dixon -- that can play it hard and play it soft with equal aplomb. And, like on Preach, Brother!, Green and Patton not only contribute fine accompaniment, but also terrific solos that keep things cooking. The original compositions (and most of the album is comprised of original material) may not be distinctive, but they do what they were intended to do: provide launching pads for hot grooves and kinetic interplay. All through Preach, Brother!, the quartet works soulful grooves with invigorating dexterity, and the high quality of the music on this album, as well as Wilkerson's other three records, will make most soul-jazz fans regret that this was his last record. It will also make them treasure the albums all the more.

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