Saxophonist Wilkerson, organist DeFrancesco, guitarist Ron Eschete, and drummer James Gadson combine efforts to play many well-known jazz standards done with bluesy overtones and a hard-swinging attitude. What sets this recording apart is the overdubbed alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone charts written by Sandy Megas and played by Wilkerson. They add a little extra oomph to the music, which is elevated by the always exciting DeFrancesco and the world-class modern guitar groove of Eschete. The band starts off burnin' and boppin' on Wilkerson's piece "The Chancelor" in a style reminiscent of "Milestones." The unison horns set off the saxophonist's fuse on tenor as he goes a little out on his solo. "Panini" is the closer: a groove swinger also penned by the sax man, based on the theme of the old hit "Tequila." In between are six famous tunes. "Red Top" is another groove swinger that's faster than the original with some counterpointed, mostly unison horns. Wilkerson's tenor extends the line of "Misty" with a solo faithfully in the Gene Ammons-Arnett Cobb-Illinois Jacquet tradition. Swirling horns intro the energetic jam on "It's You or No One" with the same horn-chart style as that of "Red Top," but more like that of "Four Brothers." Gadson sings in a pure, soulful, Grady Tate-cum-Joe Williams tone for the light blues shuffle "Everyday I Have the Blues," with insistent repetition of motifs on Eschete's lively solo. A triumph is the briskly wrought "Work Song" with tenor only and some potent guitar and organ solos. The nine-minute-plus title track, written by Wilkerson's wife Andrea Baker, could be a new standard. It's a quick blues waltz jam that's tenor-led with overdubbed support backing, DeFrancesco going to town on his frantic solo, and Wilkerson somewhat animated here á la David Murray. The perpetually cool "Georgia on My Mind," running over ten minutes, features a lone tenor wistfully reminiscing the night away, as Wilkerson proves his roots in blues hues that flow deep and wide. This CD best showcases the immense talent of Wilkerson, a player deserving wider recognition, who is still maturing and developing, and tossing aside influences where, somewhere down the road, he will have a unique voice of his own. He's almost there.
It's a Blues Sorta Thing Review
by Michael G. Nastos