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Gerald Wilson: The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of Gerald Wilson and His Orchestra

These are among the finest of all large ensemble jazz recordings of the past 50 years, and Gerald Wilson is a great big-band composer/arranger/leader, although he has not received enough credit for a couple of major reasons. He came to the fore after the end of the big band era, and his outfits did not tour. Hopefully, this five-CD set will refocus attention on his major accomplishments.

From 1939 to 1942, Wilson not only played trumpet with Jimmie Lunceford, but also wrote charts for him, including “Yard Dog Mazurka,” some of which was incorporated into “Intermission Riff,” and “Hi Spook.” During World War II he played in Willie Smith’s Great Lakes Naval Training Station Band, and by the time he was discharged or shortly thereafter had assimilated a lot of bop into his writing style, as his earliest (1945 and 1946) big-band discs indicate. His recordings as a big bandleader were infrequent, however, until this series of LPs he cut for Pacific from 1961 to 1969.

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