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Gerald Wilson Orchestra: Detroit

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This album documents Gerald Wilson’s six-part suite commissioned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Detroit International Jazz Festival. It is completed by a couple of stand-alone tracks. Like most of Wilson’s big-band writing, there are long stretches for soloists and the rhythm section with minimal or no horn-section backing.

The most attractive suite performances are the title track, a big-city ballad with flute leading the ensemble and tenorman Kamasi Washington romancing the changes; and “Miss Gretchen,” a breezy arpeggio-like theme with a slower interlude, the latter voiced at one point by violinist Yvette Devereaux. “Cass Tech,” reminiscent of Benny Golson’s writing, is pretty and swinging. “Before Motown” mines Wilson’s supply of Spanish themes, and “Blues on Belle Isle” and “The Detroit River” flow from his blues dues. Wilson’s Los Angeles band recorded the suite, and his New York band recorded the final two tracks (updates of his “Everywhere” and “Aram,” tunes he originally recorded on Pacific Jazz in the mid-’60s).

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