Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Theme for Monterey

This past September marked the 40th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival-a signal accomplishment for any jazz venture or venue. As part of the celebration, the Festival commissioned a new work from Gerald Wilson. Wilson, who began writing for big bands when in the employ of Jimmy Lunceford in the ’30s (about two decades before jazz came to Cannery Row) delivered himself of Theme for Monterey, a suite of five variations on the eponymous theme, 40 bars (AABBA) with an attractively dark bridge. His variations cover distinctly different feels, ending with the flag waver one would want, but not before opening a number of interesting doors, including a macho sort of cha-cha. A treatment of Gershwin’s “Summertime” engagingly lays a number of Catfish Tone Rows over the familiar changes. And the closing version of “Anthropology” knows its ancestry extremely well. Throughout, Wilson’s dense orchestrations hinge on sharp accents and grand sweep and provide surging support for strong solos from the likes of Brian O’Rourke, piano; Scott Mayo, alto and soprano saxes; Oscar Brashear on trumpet; and George Bohanon, trombone.

Originally Published