Jack Wilson: Serenata
Jack Wilson (piano)
Something Personal (Blue Note 52436)
Varney Barlow (drums).
Composed by Leroy Anderson.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 9-10, 1966
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Jack Wilson was a lyrical and versatile pianist whose career never really took off. He backed Dinah Washington for a year in the late 1950s and again in the early '60s, as well as accompanying many other top-notch singers. He also was active in film and TV studio work in Hollywood. His best known album as leader was probably his first of three for Blue Note, Something Personal, which had the extra added attraction of Roy Ayers during his pre-disco/funk/R&B period, when he was emerging as one of the young stars of jazz vibraphone.
"Serenata" received considerable airplay on jazz radio when Something Personal was released, being a most engaging treatment of the Leroy Anderson standard. Wilson's appealingly ringing sound and infectiously melodic and tasteful style grab your attention from the start, and his solo maintains a refined yet persistent momentum. Ayers's improv is also memorable from its first provocative tumbling run, his lines lucidly and attractively constructed. He possesses a load of technique, but prudently uses it only to good purpose. His brilliant solo here should be admired by just about any other vibist hearing it. Wilson's bluesy out-chorus is as definitive as one might desire, the highlight perhaps being some particularly inventive left-hand counter lines that he develops to great effect. This has remained a classic, if lesser-known, '60s Blue Note track for more than 40 years.
Reviewer: Scott Albin