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Mack Ave Records Presents "Detroit" by the Gerald Wilson Orchestra

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MACK AVENUE RECORDS PRESENTS DETROIT, THE LATEST RELEASE BY THE JAZZ WORLD'S GREATEST LIVING ORCHESTRAL COMPOSER, GERALD WILSON A SIX-PART SUITE COMMISSIONED BY THE DETROIT INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL; TO BE PERFORMED AT THE 30TH ANNUAL DIJF ON WILSON'S 91ST BIRTHDAY

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, the Detroit International Jazz Festival called on Gerald Wilson, the preeminent jazz orchestra composer and bandleader, to write a suite for Detroit. He recorded the piece with both his Los Angeles and New York orchestras for Detroit, his fourth Mack Avenue album, produced by Al Pryor. Detroit will premiere live on September 4th (which also marks Wilson's 91st birthday), the weekend of the festival.

He has not only maintained his L.A. band for many decades, but Wilson's New York branch convenes when he travels eastward for concerts, festivals and recording dates. He has the best of both coasts for this album, including trumpeters Jon Faddis, Bobby Rodriguez and Jimmy Owens; trombonists Dennis Wilson, Luis Bonilla and Doug Purviance; saxophonists Steve Wilson, Kamasi Washington, Antonio Hart, Jackie Kelso and Ronnie Cuber; pianists Brian O'Rourke and Renee Rosnes; bassists Trey Henry, Peter Washington and Todd Coolman; drummers Mel Lee and Lewis Nash. Guest soloists are flute master Hubert Laws, trumpeter Sean Jones and guitarist Anthony Wilson.

Wilson has written a musical sonnet to the city, where he spent five very important formative years in the late 1930s. Detroit's progressive social policies made a huge impression on the young Wilson. “The city itself showed me so much," Wilson insists. “All of the schools were integrated; so was the musician's union. I had only known segregation before." “Blues On Bell Isle," written for a public park on the shore of Lake Michigan, was the site of many lovely days from Wilson's youth.

With a sly nod to Benny Golson (one of Wilson's favorite composers), “Cass Tech" celebrates the school whose rigorous and comprehensive musical training prepared him for the real world. He states, “I don't think I would be in this position if I hadn't had that study." The music classes brought him into contact with fellow students and future jazz stars like Wardell Gray, Al McKibbon and Rudy Rutherford. They also honed Wilson's instrumental skills for work in local bands led by Bob Perkins, Harold Green and Glouster Current.

The slightly melancholy “Detroit" is Wilson's song tribute to the city. “I love Detroit," declares Wilson. “It's my home; one of them, certainly." Wilson heard some of the great jazz orchestras at Detroit's Greystone Ballroom: Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, the Sunset Royals, Erskine Hawkins and Jimmie Lunceford.

Mack Avenue owner Gretchen Valade is the subject of the brisk and brash “Miss Gretchen." Wilson notes, “She has helped Detroit and its annual Jazz Festival quite a bit, and by extension, the whole jazz world." Violinist Yvette Devereaux's poignant tone recalls the soulful violin of Ellingtonian Ray Nance.

No Wilson program would be complete without an excursion south of the border. In this case “Before Motown" nods to the Native Americans who first inhabited Michigan. Bobby Rodriquez does the honors with a crackling solo on the newest addition to the great Latin trumpet featured in the Wilson canon.

Wilson's first trip to L.A. was with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra in 1940 and it began with a parade from downtown's Union Station to the Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue. That day he met saxophonist Jackie Kelso, who finally makes his debut as a Wilson soloist. Kelso's well-executed soprano sax excursion lights up the hard-swinging “The Detroit River," which recalls Kansas City-style blues.

Wilson exults, “I have many wonderful memories of living in Detroit and I'm lucky that I have so many fine musicians to play the music that I've written about one of my very favorite cities."

Gerald Wilson Orchestra Detroit (MAC 1049)
Worldwide Release Date: September 29, 2009

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