There can be no question that Jack Wilkins is one of the finest living jazz guitarists. He has an absolutely flawless technique, boundless energy, and an inspired imagination, facets of which are tempered by an unerring musical sensibility and good taste. The above qualities shine through in abundance on Jack’s most recent CD: KEEP IN TOUCH(Claves Jazz 50-1295). His choice of musicians, Kenny Drew Jr. (Piano), Andy McKee (bass) and Akira Tana (drums) is right on. They really play as one, each contributing in a way which adds to one another’s performance. Pianist Drew, in particular, shines and the CD could equally have been put out in his name, as the title suggests. Nevertheless, it is Wilkins who stays pretty much in the drivers seat and we’re talking about a high performance car not a family sedan!
High points include a relentlessly pulsating ALICE IN WONDERLAND and the Charles Mingus tune EAST COASTING, an unusual choice which may have been inspired by Jack’s associating with the Mingus tribute group (5 guitars). I have not heard this tune recorded by any other jazz guitarist. Other standards include IF I SHOULD LOSE YOU, beautifully played as a piano and guitar duet, and STREET OF DREAMS.
Tad Dameron’s gorgeous ballad IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW opens with unaccompanied guitar and builds through the gradual introduction of the band. Following Jack’s initial statement of the A section, Drew enters alone; Jack joins him and the rest of the band then enter unobtrusively beneath a beautifully paced guitar solo. This tune is definitely a highlight of the CD.
Having been lulled into a lush ambient soundscape the mood is shattered by pianist Drew’s composition THIRD PHASE, an angular Monkish tune with no holds barred “go for the jugular” reading. Drew is first off the mark with an incessant stream of quarter notes providing a springboard for Wilkins’ more rhythmically varied, yet equally steaming solo. As ever, this is a great jazz guitar CD by one of the best. Highly recommended.
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Review "Keep In Touch"