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Gerald Wilson Orchestra: In My Time

Gerald Wilson is a living history of big-band music. Trumpet was Wilson’s ax, but in a 1939 New York minute the orchestra became his “instrument” after he replaced Sy Oliver as Jimmie Lunceford’s main arranger. He’s written so much for so many, they’re beginning to come around again: “I originally wrote an arrangement for ‘Love For Sale’ in 1953, using Jerry Dodgion on lead alto,” Wilson says in the liner notes. “52 years later, I got to use him again on the new version.”

Everything about this CD is a new version. Case in point: Wilson’s focus on diminished chords in the three-movement suite “The Diminished Triangle,” during which the arranger includes eight-part harmony, and the sax solis are five separate lines, avoiding doublings. So while his concerted writing may be dense, it also swings fluidly.

As for the support he gives soloists, the best collaboration can be heard in the matador-inspired “Lomelin,” behind the pyrotechnics of trumpeter Jon Faddis. With other soloists like guitarist Russell Malone, particularly on “Musette,” trumpeter Jimmy Owens, trombonist Luis Bonilla and pianist Renee Rosnes, this is remarkably youthful vim and vigor for an 87-year-old.

Originally Published