This is the second time I review a CD album by Eric Wyatt on Musica Jazz, and we are even more impressed by the robust and brilliant phrasing of the saxophonist who pays tribute to the great tenorists of the past, in this countless beautiful concentrate of music (which since the title itself wants to remind us of the great Sonny Rollins), making use of a few top and on the rise names of contemporary jazz.
Among them we mention Giveton Gelin, now more than a promise, and the already established pianist Fortner, to confirm the healthy state of American Jazz. It seems to us that the strength of Mr Wyatt, besides his inventively, technique, sense of swing, and lyricism, is beyond any doubt his natural ability to put together bands of absolute level, thanks to his vision and instinct, which allow him to attract music personalities who are brilliant and of great interest.
The personnel in this album are all stellar both on an instrumental and expressive level, bot mostly they are able to put aside their own individualities to the benefit of music. That same music that comes out in all its swinging grandiloquence in each of the twelve tracks of this work.
Then, how not to let ourselves swing along with the rhythm, how not to feel the emotions from the solos and the voicings of Anthony Wonsey? How not to appreciate the ‘cavata’ of Tyler Mitchell? The round and robust sound of Eric Wheeler? How not to be impressed by Willie Jones III drumming, or Charles Gold’s and Chris Beck’s?
We won’t address here Mr Wyatt’s ability to communicate and his languid delicacy in ballads, of which we have spoken in other occasions (he works on percussions in all tracks). Just listen to his cover of Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now to find out.
Eric Wyatt is among those voices who demonstrate that jazz still has a lot to express. Eric Wyatt is a name AND a guarantee.
Through his five, now six recordings as a bandleader, tenor talent Eric Wyatt has basically been performing unspoken tributes to Sonny Rollins. This time, he comes right out and says it. Not that he’s mindlessly mimicking the master. Wyatt, who happens to call Rollins his actual godfather, has a way of injecting his passion for bebop and affection for geniuses like Rollins, Charlie Parker, and Pharaoh Sanders, into virtually every note he plays. Wyatt’s latest, The Golden Rule: for Sonny, is his inimitable way of paying tribute to those strong boppers of the past, joined by talents that have been contributing valiantly to the vibrancy of today’s jazz scene—guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Benito Gonzalez, trombonist Clifton Anderson, tenor JD Allen, and emerging youth like Giveton Gelin on trombone and pianist Sullivan Fortner. Together, the posse exudes both class and bold promise as well as dashes of melodic invention. Wyatt says that he will never forget the impact Rollins—who often played with Wyatt’s father—had on him growing up. Here, on The Golden Rule: for Sonny, he proves he is a man of his word.
Brooklyn-born and bred Eric Wyatt owns a solid berth along the saxophone continuum originally laid out by guys like Parker, Coltrane and Rollins. Throughout his career, his playing has been edgy and inventive, heartfelt and poignant. In fact, his father was good friends with Rollins and after Wyatt’s dad passed away, Sonny Rollins became involved in Eric’s music. “After my dad passed in 1989, Sonny became very present in my music and offered his help. I was given the opportunity to record my first CD, Godson, on the Japanese label King Records. Sonny suggested the title Godson because it explained his and my dad’s Hope. The Godson CD featured Al Foster, Rufus Reid and Mark Soskin, all members of Sonny’s bands.
Look to the Sky, Wyatt’s debut for Whaling City Sound and his sixth recording overall, is magnificently realized, both instrumentally and emotionally. There are musical nods to his father (“Jolley Charlie”) and mother (“Psalm for Phennie”), to Coltrane (“My Favorite Things”) and a few other intimate touch points, some original, a few written by his accompanist, Benito Gonzalez. Indeed, Wyatt is joined here by excellent progressive musicians, including the resounding pianist Gonzalez, drummers Shinnosuke Takahashi and Kyle Poole, Eric Wheeler on bass and Keyon Harrold on trumpet. Together, their music is filled with hope and dedication, reciprocity and passion. With every recording, Wyatt flourishes, in terms of artistry and intensity, power and finesse. Look to the Sky is the man’s—and his band’s— finest and fullest record yet.
Benito Gonzalez – piano
Keyon Harrold – trumpet — winner of best soundtrack album for the grammy 2017
Eric Wheeler – bass
Kyle Poole – drums
Shinnosuke Takahashi – drums
Andrea Miller – vocals
“Pete Fallico has been programming jazz radio in the Bay Area as well as producing his own podcast (Doodlin’ Lounge) for over 42 years.
He continues to promo jazz performances; produce recording sessions and write for notable jazz artists around the world.