Gerald Wilson / Gerald Wilson Orchestra

New York, New Sound

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New York isn't a name that one ordinarily expects to see in the title of a Gerald Wilson album. Wilson, after all, has long been associated with the Los Angeles jazz scene; he started recording there in the '40s and has lived there most of his life. If anyone underscores the fact that a jazz artist doesn't need a Manhattan address to be legitimate -- a ludicrous notion that, sadly, still persists in some New York jazz circles -- it's Wilson. So where does the title New York, New Sound come from? The veteran arranger/bandleader recorded New York, New Sound during a visit to the Big Apple, where he oversees a big band that boasts heavyweight soloists like Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Jimmy Heath (tenor sax), Frank Wess (tenor sax), and Kenny Barron (piano). Wilson was 85 when New York, New Sound (which was produced by the Crusaders' Stix Hooper) came out in August 2003, and even though he doesn't actually play any instruments on this album, his arranging/bandleading style is distinctively Gerald Wilson. Whether the orchestra is embracing Wilson's own compositions (which dominate the session) or arrangements of John Coltrane's "Equinox" and Miles Davis' "Milestones," Wilson's musical personality is very much in evidence -- and his personality is that of an arranger/bandleader, not a hotshot soloist. Wilson prefers to leave the soloing to other people, which is something he has long had in common with Duke Ellington. Although the Duke was a fine pianist, he never saw himself that way -- Ellington often asserted that his band was his "instrument," and Wilson brings a similar mentality to this solid addition to his catalog.

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