Marshall Gilkes & WDR Big Band receive a 9.2 from Staccatofy

by Steph Cosme

A second collaboration with WDR Big Band, is aptly titled Always Forward, certainly a play on words as the forward-thinking trombonist-composer-arranger Marshall Gilkes is known for his continued quest of pushing his music forward and outward.  “I also believe we should push the music forward. I’ve never been a huge fan of those purists that think jazz stopped after 1960,” says Gilkes.  A member of the Maria Schneider Orchestra and a frequent guest artist-conductor around the world, including collaborations with Columbian harpist Edmar Castañeda’s trio his leanings are certainly exhibited by the company he keeps.  Following the success of his 2015 alliance with the WDR Big Band, titled Köln, Gilkes garnered a   Grammy nominated.  This time around is a continuation of that winning sound of innovativeness, backed by stronger writing and unrivaled performances on in Always Forward.

Positives:
His new approach to mainstay standards and well-constructed originals is brimming with crackling ideas and solid counterpoint.

Bottom Line:
Whether highlighting his peerless craftsmanship on original compositions like “Morning Smiles,” inspired by his infant son. Or defining moments on his three-movement, 14-minute “Denali Suite,” or re-arranging well-known classics like the remake of “Portrait of Jennie,” a standard recorded by Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Wes Montgomery, Nat King Cole and J.J. Johnson, or the classic “Easy to Love.” Gilkes writing is on full-display as the most prestigious Big Band executes his stunning writing and arranging. Gilkes is masterful with his pen, the counterpoint between the sections and his ability to create energy with a Big Band are unrivaled. That’s the short of It!

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