Prairie Audio Man Cave
I knew that Anthony Wilson was Diana Krall’s longstanding, pedigreed guitarist, but from the first luscious licks on his hollow body guitar in the bluesy, perky mid-tempo “Fleur d’Ennui,” I sit amazed. Mark Ferber’s ride cymbals join in, and Joe Bagg’s Hammond B-3 comps, laying down a wondrous backdrop to Wilson’s virtuosic lead, then several measures later, serves up a sassy, solo with equal aplomb. The two engage in an intoxicating dialog rounded out by Ferber’s toms, ride and crash cymbals, making this a thoroughly satisfying and savory sonic appetizer that could easily be a meal, but tantalizes about what lies ahead in the rest of their album, Savivity.
They don’t disappoint. While the bluesy “Fleur d’Ennui” eases us in, the Bebop “All the Things that You Are” takes us into the deep end, showcasing Wilson’s and Bagg’s scintillating chops, as well as Ferber’s outstanding drum soloing skills. I find myself transported to The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, reaching for one of my friend Joe’s Marlboros. It’s that good. (...)
Now a four-year veteran of Diana Krall’s road band, Anthony Wilson reunites with organist Joe Bagg and drummer Mark Ferber to follow up Our Gang with the exceptional Savivity. As if to prove that a “mainstream” date can be unpredictable and forward-focused, Wilson chooses seldom-heard songs (“You’re the Top,” Django’s “Fleur d’Ennui”) and brings skill and conviction to the more common ones (“A Child Is Born,” “All the Things You Are”).
His four originals are accessible yet idiosyncratic, somehow transcending the genres in which they’re written. “The Other Shore,” a slow bossa, has a straightforward lyrical line unfolding in an odd harmonic pattern, with Wilson’s unaccompanied interlude adding another wrinkle. “Jackson,” a longer piece in a laid-back swing feel, has a similar freshness. “Savivity,” a midtempo waltz, brings out darker colors and features one of Bagg’s more ruminative solos. “Sea Blues” brightens the mood with an offbeat 12-bar bebop head, followed by inspired blowing.
Wilson’s soulful touch is a genuine pleasure, and his interplay with Bagg and Ferber never seems rote.
All Music -
Guitarist Anthony Wilson is a particularly talented arranger-composer. He is usually heard with larger groups, so this trio outing gives listeners a rare opportunity to hear him stretch out as an improviser.
The music mostly falls between hard bop and soul-jazz and tends to be laid-back and relaxed, even the rapid rendition of "All the Things You Are." The fine Los Angeles organist Joe Bagg works well with Wilson, while drummer Mark Ferber adds subtlety and swing. But the guitarist, who contributed four of the eight selections, is the main star and his soft tone and quietly inventive ideas make this set worth listening to closely.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars