Merge is a perfect title for this extraordinary album. A coming together of four gifted contemporary voices, the music vibrates with lyric intensity, technical virtuosity and vigorous inventiveness. As such, it is destined to add further luster to the already distinguished careers of Wilkins, Brecker, DeJohnette and Gomez.
More than a blowing date, the music is a culmination of sessions nurtured in the warm environs of Sweet Basil, and intimate Greenwich Village nitery rapidly becoming one of the landmarks on the current club scene. Wilkins and Gomez first worked there as a duo on Monday nights. When Wilkins was asked to bring in a quartet, the guitarist called on Brecker and DeJohnette. In Merge , the magic of those live performances is not only caught, it is amplified.
As a mainstream melodist, Wilkins stands second to none. His mellow woody sound, nimble fingerings and constantly fresh improvisations are outstanding. His biting yet flowing attack is best exemplified in the samba flavored Fum and the boppish Pappa, Daddy and Me. For timbral variety, Wilkins makes effective use of steel string acoustic guitar in his impressionistic duo with DeJohnette on piano, Brown, Warm and Wintry.
The biggest surprise of the album is Randy Brecker’s superb efforts on flugelhorn. Discarding the mannerisms of the disco-funk crossover bag, Brecker proves himself a brass singer of passion and grace. His solos on the brisk Falling In Love With Love and the Latin-accented Buds are faultless.
Gomez, of course, is one of today’s most persuasive bassists. His percolating pizzicato work on Falling In Love and arco exhibition on 500 Miles High are masterpieces. DeJohnette is equally effective. His supercharged timekeeping energizes and colors. DeJohnette’s pungent piano stylings are shown to advantage in Pappa, Daddy And Me and Brown, Warm And Wintry.
The emphatic interplay among the four young giants is consistently breathtaking. That makes Merge one of this year’s musical musts.
Reviews Press Stories