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May 2005

Spike Wilner Ensemble
Late Night: Live at Smalls
Fresh Sound New Talent

Smalls club has been a bright light of the New York jazz scene since the late 1990s, catering to both young, emerging talent and obscure veteran musicians. Among the regulars who played in this virtual musical laboratory is pianist Michael "Spike" Wilner, who worked the club with a variety of ensembles. Like many other members of Smalls' younger league, Wilner is a traditionalist at heart, and Late Night: Live at Smalls (Fresh Sound New Talent) reveals his fealty to the postbop mainstream. His solidly swinging solos are a highlight of both the trio pieces and the quintet performances; the supporting musicians are guitarist Yves Brouqui, reedist Ian Hendrickson Smith, drummer Joe Strasser and bassist Paul Gill. Wilner has a way with overlooked standards, including three gems of Ellingtonia: "A Gypsy Without a Song," "Brown Penny" and "The Intimacy of the Blues," as well as a knack for well-crafted originals ("Go Ask Ellis," "Hopscotch").

Originally published in May 2005
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