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Review "Alien Army"
Jack Wilkins provides tons of tension while offering moments of gentle release on Alien Army (MusicMasters 5049-2-C; 54:09: ****). A diverse package ranging from radio playable happy jazz (“Happy Eyes”) to angular freebop (“Fornix”) to fusion fusillades (“Chess”) and gentle ballads (“Moon Rain”). It puts Wilkins to work in contexts other than the straightahead, bop-flavored settings he’s favored in the past. Pushed by Michael Formanek’s booming, upright bass lines and Mike Clark’s crisp drum grooves, Wilkins cranks on the distortion pedal and unleashes with fusion fury on “Pod Dance,” reminiscent of Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, while on the tumultuous “Fornix,” he crosses into James Blood Ulmer territory. Marc Puricelli adds nice synth and piano touches throughout and blends beautifully with Wilkins on the haunting ballad “Romance.” A dynamic, new fusion group for the ‘90s, with guts to match their chops