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Shadow
     

The Shadow

by Joe Lee Wilson
 
Joe Lee Wilson's The Shadow was recorded in New York for Japan's Cheetah Records label in 1988. It was the second offering form Wilson for the label, the first being Come and See in duet with guitarist Jimmy Ponder in 1981. According to the liner notes, the 1981 album went unreleased, and this one was only available in Japan for a short time. Thankfully,

Overview

Joe Lee Wilson's The Shadow was recorded in New York for Japan's Cheetah Records label in 1988. It was the second offering form Wilson for the label, the first being Come and See in duet with guitarist Jimmy Ponder in 1981. According to the liner notes, the 1981 album went unreleased, and this one was only available in Japan for a short time. Thankfully, both albums have found their way onto the shelves in America thanks Explore Records excellent series of reissued jazz recordings on CD. As with Come and See, this set makes plain the startling fact that despite his great abilities as a stylist, and his deep knowledge of American popular musical forms from jazz and blues to soul to R&B, Wilson has been a secret even to hardcore jazz fans despite having recorded with Pharaoh Sanders, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp (on three records no less!), and Clifford Jordan, to name a few. The band assembled here is made up of (mostly) well kept secrets as well: there's guitarist Ponder, pianist Harry Whittaker, drummer Bruno Carr, percussionist Chuggy Carter and the well known bassist Leroy Vinnegar. The material contains two originals; one is the title track which opens the set; a swinging wellspring of jazz and blues phrasing, in an elegy to Martin Luther King. Jr.. The band understands the depths and power of Wilson's baritone, but they push him to the top of his range as well and he digs into the meat of his song with conviction. Other tunes here, such as the standard "Ol' Man River," the Count Basie-Jimmy Rushing nugget, "Chicago Blues," "Besame Mucho," "You Are Too Beautiful," and Billy Eckstine's jazz classic "I Want to Talk About You" that closes the set, are all executed in a highly original manner. They are full of warmth, humor, drama, and the best of the jazz vocal tradition. The other original here, "Come Back Home Baby Blues," is a mirror image of the title cut. This is a tight, 12-bar blues with a killer stroll by Vinnegar and smooth, elegant fills by Ponder. Wilson wastes no time getting to the root of the tune, but the joy in his delivery belies the content of the song -- and yes, that is a good thing. The song "Good Morning Love," originally recorded on Come and See, is redone here in a full band version. The delivery is very different and the comfort felt by Wilson with that net underneath him is perhaps a bit much. He doesn't delve underneath the lyric as much as on the original, but the band's performance is remarkable. The Shadow is another fine recording by Wilson, one that deserves to be not only heard more widely, but owned and enjoyed over and again. And it is almost vain to hope, during this wildly dismissive and indulgent moment in popular culture, that an album like this one will not simply be noted and discarded, but that after encountering it, it will be be remembered and cherished; that the page on Wilson in jazz history will become longer and better recognized, so we might have his recordings from the '70s available once again as well.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/31/2007
Label:
Explore Records
UPC:
0878914000252
catalogNumber:
25

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