GER­ALD WIL­SON OR­CHES­TRA Detroit (Mack Av­enue)

Pasatiempo - - Cd Reviews -

Ger­ald Wil­son, one of jazz’s el­ders (he turned 91 in Septem­ber), has made mu­sic with and for a gallery of leg­ends that in­cludes Jim­mie Lunce­ford, Duke Elling­ton, Count Basie, Ella Fitzger­ald, and Dizzy Gille­spie. In be­tween his na­tive Mis­sis­sippi and Los An­ge­les, where he has been based for 70 years, Wil­son was a res­i­dent of Detroit. “Un­like other places I had lived, Detroit was in­te­grated,” he says in the liner notes. “So, for me, Detroit was free­dom.” On this al­bum, he con­ducts his 19-piece or­ches­tra on a suite that was com­mis­sioned by the Detroit In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val for its 30th birth­day. The set opens with the for­ward-lean­ing “Blues on Belle Isle,” fea­tur­ing a fine gui­tar solo by An­thony Wil­son, the leader’s son. On “Cass Tech,” Wil­son re­calls the high school where he first stud­ied mu­sic and memo­ri­al­izes the Benny Gol­son stan­dard “Along Came Betty”— Sean Jones gor­geous here on trum­pet. “Detroit” is a love song to what Wil­son calls “a beau­ti­ful, mag­nif­i­cent city.” It is a stel­lar piece, glit­ter­ing with sax­o­phone and trom­bone so­los. The shift­ing, daz­zling “Miss Gretchen” is full of fine so­los by vi­o­lin­ist Yvette Dev­ereaux and oth­ers. The suite ends with the Lat­in­fla­vored “Be­fore Mo­town” and the ex­cit­ing “The Detroit River.” Then there are two out­stand­ing songs (recorded in New York) fea­tur­ing flutist Hu­bert Laws and trum­peter Ter­rell Stafford. Just great jazz. — Paul Wei­de­man

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