Marshall Gilkes: Sound Stories

A formidable improviser, trombonist Marshall Gilkes flexes his composer-arranger muscle on this refined quintet date with saxophonist Donny McCaslin, pianist Adam Birnbaum, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Eric Doob. Three extended two-part suites represent Gilkes’ finest material here. The frantically swinging “Presence: Part 1” has McCaslin soloing with abandon on tenor, while “Part 2” finds Gilkes improvising in more subdued fashion. “Anxiety: Part 1” is a relaxed heartland ode that features some engaging counterpoint between the horns along with potent solos from each player. “Part 2,” the 10-minute centerpiece of the disc, develops that same contrapuntal motif through an accelerated tempo before Gilkes pairs off with Nakamura for a dramatic and highly expressive duet that leads to a spirited trombone solo backed by the full band. Equally impressive is the stirring two-part “Armstrong,” featuring brilliant horn harmonies and a torrid tenor solo from McCaslin. Gilkes reserves his most lyrical playing for the poignant ballad “Bare.”