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Jim Wilson: Cape of Good Hope

Full of the optimism and wonder suggested by its title, Jim Wilson’s Cape of Good Hope (Hillsboro HMD1005; 50:26) is full of elegant, layered arrangements that start with gentle piano melodies and build to grand adventures. Wilson, whose rolling, melodic grand piano guides his explorations, draws upon timeless components to craft his arrangements, from the meditative piano/sax/nylon guitar-based “Friend,” which glows with nostalgia, to the classic seascape feel of the album’s lush title track, crafted by Eric Rigler’s Uilleann pipes and Wilson’s waves of piano. These component parts convey the mixed emotions of adventure. On “Discovery,” for example, the joy of an excited, revolving piano line contrasts with the uncertain, haunted calls of Chris Botti’s trumpet. Likewise “Til I See You Again” conveys bittersweet reflection in details like Davey Johnstone’s mandolin and Rigler’s distant Irish flute. The album’s sole cover, Steve Winwood’s Blind Faith classic “Can’t Find My Way Home,” played as a piano-sax-guitar trio by Wilson, Richard Elliot and Peter White, is as awash in melancholy as warm recollection. The resolution to these adventures, chronicled on Wilson’s upcoming PBS television special, Jim Wilson & Friends: Cape of Good Hope and Other Musical Portraits, is always one of strength, hope and gentle uplift. The orchestral romance “Donna Lynn,” sung by Stephen Bishop in a heartfelt, straight-up tenor, underscores the power of this optimism.

Originally Published