The Wizard of Oz Suite

Phil Wilson

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The Wizard of Oz Suite Review

by Ken Dryden

Veteran trombonist Phil Wilson arranged seven pieces from the film The Wizard of Oz and turned them into an engaging suite, accompanied by several great soloists and the NDR Big Band. "Over the Rainbow" is an obvious choice, since it has long since become a jazz standard; he gives it a loping treatment over a lush orchestral background. "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" receives a playful up-tempo arrangement featuring alto saxophonist Herb Geller, including a quick but recurring taste of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning." His reworking of "If I Only Had a Brain" adds an interesting brass vamp underneath the soloists, while unaccompanied brass invite you to follow the yellow brick road during the opening of "We're Off to See the Wizard" in a delightful marchlike chart. Music lovers like Phil Wilson have known for a long time that these great songs aren't just for kids! Neither is Wilson a slouch with other standards. Brisk versions of "Perdido," "Oh, Lady Be Good," and "Woodchopper's Ball" are all exciting; while his mastery of ballads such as "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You" and "I Like the Sunrise" is readily apparent. Highly recommended.

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