Here’s the third album from guitarist, arranger, and leader of his own big band, Anthony Wilson. He’s young, but he definitely can look backward to the likes of his father, Gerald, and other modern big band arrangers and players.
With each album, his composition skills seem to grow, along with his playing. The very evocative “Idle Blues’ features a wonderfully odd melody with killer solos on sax and organ, and Wilson on a highly swinging guitar solo. It’s a lengthy and in-depth piece that never seems to get boring. His composition “Invention In Blue” is a nice bluesy ballad that features more of his monster soloing. His real hallmark here is the final suite. It’s called “Adult Themes” and features five sections. It goes from swing to contemplative moods and everything in between.
Wilson’s choice of songs to cover is wonderful, too. Donald Fagen’s “Maxine” fits the mood of the band and his octave fills highlight a really nice tune. He also makes the Beatle’s “Because” work in this idiom. His arrangements add bluesy elements to the original melody with well-placed organ fills and horn punches. And, his really nice solo guitar intro really sets up a gorgeous treatment of “Danny Boy.” You gotta love this guy if you have any interest in jazz. He’s breathing new life in the modern big band, and his playing speaks for itself. Recommended.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’99 issue.