Joe Wilder

Softly With Feeling

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Before it was more common for jazz players like Wynton Marsalis to play both jazz and the "straight" music from stage, screen, and concert hall, trumpeter Joe Wilder broke the mold as a regular in Broadway pit bands and as a staff musician at ABC-TV from 1957-1973. After fleshing out his formal studies via stints with Lionel Hampton, Jimmie Lunceford, Lucky Millander, and Count Basie, Wilder augmented his "day job" at ABC with several dates as a leader. This 1956 Savoy session finds him in the sympathetic company of pianist Hank Jones, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Kenny Clarke. The quartet effortlessly works through six cuts, focusing on fine ballad renditions of Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," Noel Coward's "Mad About the Boy," and Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream." Balancing out the after-hours mood, Wilder and company also stretch out on "Six Bit Blues" and a steady-rolling version of "Caravan." While Wilder takes quality solos throughout, especially on the slower cuts, Jones matches him track for track with his own elegantly swinging and thoughtful statements. One of the best of the trumpeter's early dates.

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