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Jack Wilkins: Bluesin’

Despite the title and the instrumentation (Tony Lawson on drums, Steve Wood on Hammond), this album is more of a straightahead blowing session than a funky organ trio workout. Nevertheless, the New York-based guitarist plays with great skill and imagination throughout the program’s nine selections.

Of the set’s three standards, Wilkins embellishes “Old Folks” with some gorgeous counterpoint and subtly deviates from the norm by endowing “All or Nothing at All” and “I Concentrate On You” with Latin treatments that allow him to call upon his deep melodic reserves. Wilkins’ own writing covers a wide range of rhythmic feels. Particularly outstanding are “Vista,” a grooving number with effective metrical changes, and “Mr. M.C.,” a bluesy uptempo burner that proves Wilkins can swing and riff on a high level.

Throughout, Wilkins falls back on his uncommonly brilliant technique, tossing off streams of perfectly executed sixteenth notes. It recalls Segovia’s response to being asked why he often played so fast: “Because I can.”

Originally Published