Trombonist and longtime Berklee professor Phil Wilson was saluted with a 1995 concert featuring some of the many graduates of the Berklee College of Music. The personnel on this CD changes from song to song, but most of the bigger names have opportunities to solo, along with some of the up-and-coming musicians. The opening "Basically Blues" clocks in at 16:20, starting off with some swing-style piano by Cyrus Chestnut. Among the many soloists are trombonist Keith O'Quinn, altoist Richie Cole (who sounds different, not as boppish), the powerful tenor of Ernie Watts, and trombonist Wilson. "Reunion Dues" has spots for baritonist Jan Konopasek and trumpeter Tony Klatka, while "In the Still of the Night" is explored in spirited fashion by a trombone-only frontline consisting of Wilson, Hal Crook and Tony Lada. The guest of honor is the main star of "Sleepy Time Down South" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"; trumpeter Riley Mullins has a Louis Armstrong-inspired spot on the latter. After "It Mostly Bees" (which has solo space for trombonist Elliot Mason, guitarist Joe Cohn, Scott Robinson on tenor and trumpeter Mullins), there is a change of pace with "Guidum," which is closer to world music than jazz and features bassist Abe Laboriel, Sr. and drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead," has solos by Watts, Wilson, and altoist Christopher Hollyday. Closing the set is one of six Phil Wilson arrangements for the date, a version of "Over the Rainbow" with spots for Wilson, Watts and 16-year-old Russian pianist Cyril Gerstein. Despite all of the personnel turnover and a fairly wide variety of styles, from hints of trad to advanced hard bop and the Laboriels' feature, the music is consistently enjoyable. This CD (available from Berklee) will probably be difficult to find, but is worth the search.
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