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July/August 2003

Joe Wilder
Among Friends
Evening Star Records

This past February, the durable trumpeter/ flugelhornist Joe Wilder turned 81. A few months earlier, he recorded his third album for Evening Star, Among Friends. It's a pleasure to report his tone, his phrasing and his fluency belie his age, particularly when he jams among friends. Listen to "It's You or No One"-Wilder and cornetist Warren Vache with rhythm accompaniment-and you'll hear a cutting session in which both emerge as winners. There's no sense of competitiveness on "Indiana," however, with Wilder and tenor player Frank Wess playing over rhythm and having a ball. Now there's nothing wrong with a rhythm section, not when it includes the likes of pianists Bill Charlap or Chris Neville, bassists Jerry Bruno or Steve LaSpina and drummer Chuck Redd. But Wilder positively shines in the freedom of a duet mode. Thus the highlights of the album can be heard when Wilder and guitarist Russell Malone play "What Now, My Love?" and "My Romance"; Wilder and Charlap on "Secret Love" and "When I Fall in Love"; Wilder and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli on "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and, surprisingly, "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" Another surprise: "76 Trombones," an ensemble number that begins tantalizingly slow, then heats up before slowing again. The ensemble highlight, "Centerpiece," features a stellar frontline of Wilder, Vache and Wess.

Originally published in July/August 2003
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