Gerald Wilson

The Best of the Gerald Wilson Orchestra

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After coming up as an arranger in the bands of Jimmie Lunceford, Benny Carter, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie, Gerald Wilson took most of the 50s off before making a spectacular return on the Pacific Jazz label. For most of the '60s, Wilson recorded several big-band dates for the West Coast company, all featuring his uniquely layered and swinging charts. His breezy yet complex pieces are not only reminiscent of Quincy Jones' work, but seem to reconcile the muscle of East Coast jazz with the more laid-back music made in his adopted California home. As a viable, but out of print alternative to the 85-track Mosaic box set of all Wilson's Pacific Jazz sides, this greatest-hits package covers the incredible range of the bandleader's output, including swinging blues, modal jazz, Latin-tinged pieces, pop, and soundtrack material. Besides fine renditions of Coltrane's "Equinox" and the Ashford and Simpson-penned Fifth Dimension hit "California Soul," Wilson offers up impressive originals like "Lighthouse Blues" and the tonally rich, Cool Hand Luke movie theme "Down Here on the Ground." As a bonus to the rich store of material which also includes one of the most imaginative arrangements of Miles Davis' "Milestones" and Wilson's "Viva Tirado," there are fine solo contributions from West Coast stars like tenor saxophonists Harold Land and Teddy Edwards, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, organist Groove Holmes, trumpeter Carmel Jones, guitarist Joe Pass, and the then budding pianist George Duke. A substantial and often overlooked collection of '60s jazz material.