On the jazz festival circuit last summer, Jack Wilkins was calling his tight little trio “On The Cusp.” Nobody would have faulted him had he simply called the band “High Octane.”
That’s what this album is all about, high energy improvisations that swing like crazy, whether the original material is a jazz standard, a page from the American Songbook, or a Wilkins original (On The Cusp, You Went Away and Call Him Reckless).
Frank Loesser’s If I Were A Bell starts out with a chime-like guitar intro before Wilkins sets and sustains a maddening pace with his single notes - these lines are as fast as a hot bop trumpeter or piano player. By Myself starts out moderately for the first eight bars - then shifts to a rapid pace before the trio turns it every which way while exploring new ideas. The Brazilian flavor of Luis Bonfa’s Manha de Carnaval is a showcase for Wilkins’ beautiful way with a melody. The chestnut My One and Only Love is the only tune that gets a rather subdued reading in terms of pace, and it gives Wilkins a chance to explore all the nuances.
On the Cusp is the hour-long session’s long duet, a gorgeous ballad treatment by Laspina and Wilkins in which a bass solo sets the melodic tone while Wilkins’ guitar takes over the rhythm function before they trade places.
They also mine the lodes of Miles Davis (Nardis), Joe Henderson (Isotope) and Bill Evans (B Minor Waltz ). The ensemble work here is tight from start to finish, three musical minds playing as one.
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Review "Call Him Reckless"