Gerald Wilson: Detroit




Gerald Wilson Orchestra


Detroit (Mack Avenue 1049)

Buy Track


Gerald Wilson (conductor),

Ron Barrows (trumpet), Brian O’Rourke (piano), Mel Lee (drums), Trey Henry (bass), Carl Randall (tenor sax), Jackie Kelso (alto sax, soprano sax), Kamasi Washington (tenor sax), Louis Van Taylor (tenor sax, baritone sax), Randall Willis (alto sax, flute), Terry Landry (baritone sax), Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet), Jeff Kaye (trumpet), Rick Baptist (trumpet), Winston Byrd (trumpet), Eric Jorgensen (trombone), Les Benedict (trombone), Mike Wimberly (trombone) Shaunte Palmer (trombone), Yvette Devereaux (violin), Sean Jones (flugelhorn), Anthony Wilson (guitar)


Composed and arranged by Gerald Wilson


Recorded: Los Angeles, no date given (CD released in 2009)


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

A nostalgic, backward-looking quality permeates this late vintage work by veteran bandleader Gerald Wilson. And certainly Wilson, who celebrated his 91st birthday a few weeks before the Detroit CD was released, has plenty to look back on, and a fair portion of it centered in the city celebrated in this composition. Wilson is closely associated in the mind of fans with West Coast jazz because of his fine California-based bands, but he spent much of his early life in Detroit, where he graduated from Cass Tech, for many years the city's only magnet school, in the mid-1930s. The commission from the Detroit International Jazz Festival must have been a spur for him to look back at his own early years, and the result is a sentimental song rather than a musical evocation of auto assembly lines and other Motor Town symbols and signifiers. "Detroit" the song is languorous and melancholy, with exactly the emotional temperament one would expect from a composer mulling over le temps retrouvé. The solo from Kamasi Washinton on tenor is gentle, and perhaps too respectful at first, but cuts off just as he seems ready to get into the flow. Sean Jones delivers a sweet, polished flugelhorn improvisation. Nonetheless, the centerpiece here is the gray-haired bandleader, who has delivered a dreamy, eulogistic piece for a city on hard times but with a grand jazz tradition to which he is a significant contributor.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


Comments are closed.