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The Anthony Wilson Trio – Our Gang

 
Our Gang

This is a little different thing for Anthony. His past few albums have been him leading a big band, doing marvelous arrangements and playing guitar to die for.

Here, it’s just him, Joe Bagg on the B-3, and Mark Ferber on the drums. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t matter, as far as the quality of the music goes.

There are three originals here. The title cut is a light bopper that lets Wilson show his lyrical solo playing. “Brita’s Blues” is a nice ballad with a bluesy touch, and “Time Flies” has a Latin feel that really heats up and lets Anthony’s playing take you on a wild ride. If you’re familiar with his big-band arrangements, you’re probably not going to be surprised by the quality of these compositions.

The rest of the album has some great covers – some surprising. For instance, we go from a killer version of “Luck Be a Lady” to a grooving “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” It’s not often we’re taken from Sinatra to the Beatles, and in such grand fashion.

“Luck Be a Lady” has an intro that lasts over a minute and lets Anthony take you through the secret life of chords. His chordal work with no accompaniment is beautiful. From there, it’s a straight reading of the melody. Then, when you think about it, the Beatles tune is a perfect choice for an organ-style trio. Bluesy, yet just a little on the jazz side. The groove and solo here let everyone show their soul and chops. There’s a nice cover of Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins con Carne” that would have Anthony’s fellow UCLA instructor smiling, and his ballad work stands out on “Prelude to a Kiss.”

I’m constantly amazed by Wilson. He’s got all the tools. He’s a great player, a wonderful writer, and an arranger who’s in the top flight of today’s jazz arrangers. If you’re not familiar with his work, check this one, then go get the big-band stuff. If you can’t find it at your local music shop, check groovenote.com.



This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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