Wait a minute! Is that Stan Getz or Paul Desmond? The first two tracks made it clear that this was real jazz, but when track three was introduced with a smooth samba-like rhythm and the saxophone slipped in, it made me do a double take. Was this Dave Wilson and his quartet or did the wrong CD make it into the player?
Spiral is Dave Wilson’s third CD and he is joined for this project by three legendary sidemen with stellar resume’s. Phil Markowitz on piano, Tony Marino on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums have worked with such notables as Chet Baker, Bob Mintzer, Zoots Sims, Phil Woods, Stan Getz, John Scofield, and Dave Liebman. The Dave Wilson Quartet is tight and turns in a defining performance both for themselves and traditional jazz.
Track three, “Ocean Blue” is one of Wilson’s six compositions (he arranged all eleven) and is my favorite. The four elements of the quartet compliment each other yet still have fine solo moments. Markowitz and Wilson share the spotlight on this number and although satisfying to the ear, the listener longs for more.
This reviewer has no problem with traditional jazz groups covering popular songs. Not only do pop tunes provide an opportunity for them to show their variety and skills at improv with widely familiar melodies, but they attract new fans to an important music genre. Wilson includes three: “Friend of the Devil” (Grateful Dead), “My Own Prison” (Creed), and “You’re the Biggest Part of Me” (Ambrosia).
Wilson makes his tenor sax sing on the group’s cover of the Creed hit, in fact it may be the best overall performance on Spiral. His mastery of both extremes of the scale on his tenor are clearly displayed on this piece. There are moments in which it could have easily been the soprano sax we were hearing. A friend more familiar with Creed’s work than I was amazed, “That dude is playing the lead singer’s part and it’s scary at what a voice he gives that sax!”
“Like GS 2” is Marino’s time in the spotlight and he makes the most of it with a brilliant bass solo. His finger work and timing supported by Nussbaum’s brushes on snare offer listeners a memorable experience. Like all the tracks on Spiral, this number serves up a savory helping of pure jazz for the enjoyment of the purist as well as the novice. For those who use that crossover appeal as a benchmark for success, this CD is a must buy.
Dave Wilson is a music educator, band leader, sideman, event promoter, salesman 9 (musical instruments), arranger, and now recording artist. With two previous CD’s that both made waves on the charts, we hope that the third time is a charm for a vehicle to great fame. Such success would be great not only for Wilson, but for jazz music in general.