Marshall Gilkes is reviewed by Jazz Views (UK)

Reviewed by Derek Ansell

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MARSHALL GILKES/ WDR BIG BAND – Always Forward

Alternate Side Records 010

Marshall Gilkes (tb); WDR Big Band
Recorded Cologne, Germany 4th 5th & 6th September 2017

This is the second collaboration between Gilkes and The WDR Big Band. They invited him to audition for them and ended up inviting him to write and arrange a recording session featuring his sterling trombone. The opening selection Puddle Jumping is a lively opener featuring a virtuoso trombone solo and some snappy big band fills. The well- known and well- worn standard Easy To Love is taken at a fast clip here rather than the more usual slow to medium tempo. Johan Horlen on alto sax is the featured soloist and his sweet toned, swirling alto is the main attraction although, as usual, the big band is solid in support. Gilkes returns as soloist on Morning Smiles, an esoteric piece wrapped up in flute and baritone ensemble lines. Gilkes proves to be just as effective as a ballad player as he is on up tempo selections, his gently but effectively constructed bone solo full of warmth and lyricism.

Portrait Of Jennie, the other standard on offer is a slowly building piece with a nicely balanced, soft focus flugelhorn solo from Andy Haderer. Switchback is a rather funky, blues which motors along in swinging fashion helped by Paul Heller’s tenor sax, the alto sax of Karolina Strassmayer and the drums of Hans Dekker. Although the solos and arrangements are contemporary this is primarily a hard swinging big band in the great jazz tradition. The 14 minute, three part Denali Suite is the central work by Gilkes and here he hands over solo honours to Johan Horlen on soprano, Simon Seidel on piano for Part 2 and fellow trombonist Andy Hunter on the final part. Although well featured as soloist Gilkes does not hog the limelight and the entire WDR Band play very well throughout, featuring many of their own very competent soloists.

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