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ERIC WYATT

Look to the Sky

WHALING CITY SOUND WCS104 [61:52]

 

 

 

E-Brother

Look to the Sky-Sister Carol

My Favorite Things

Jolley Charlie

A Psalm for Phennie

One Finger Snap

Afro Blue

Starting Point

Tenderly

Keyon Harrold (trumpet): Eric Wyatt (soprano, alto, tenor saxes, vocal): Benito Gonzalez (piano): Eric Wheeler (bass): Shinnosuke Takahashi (drums) and Kyle Poole (drums, tracks 4,5,6), Andrea Miller (vocals)

Recorded November 2015, Acoustic Sound Recordings

 

Eric Wyatt’s musical inheritance encompasses the legacies of both Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. The former has acted as a kind of godfather to Wyatt, and the latter’s tonal and stylistic influence is notable on several of the tracks in this probing, technically accomplished album.

His band on this 2015 disc that was mixed in 2017 includes the outstanding pianist Benito Gonzalez (ex-Kenny Garrett), trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and a strong rhythm section that provides consistently athletic support. Written in memory of his mother, Wyatt’s E-Brother is no dirge; its Blue Note ethos hearkening back to Horace Silver, a kind of soulful Bop that features a fleet-fingered solo from the pianist and heady front-line badinage. Look to the Sky-Sister Carol is another Wyatt original – there are four such in the nine-track CD – and is an up-tempo swinger with active percussion work from the alert Shinnosuke Takahashi, strong piano comping and soloing. My Favorite Things is patterned ŕ la Coltrane, with Wyatt sporting soprano and tenor throughout its course, and features the vocals of Wyatt and Andrea Miller – fluent and fluid hard bop. Jolley Charlie, another Wyatt song, explores the richer vibrato and fatter sound of his Rollins inheritance and the arrangement, with his tenor riding over bass and drums, is very much in the Rollins scheme of things, and effective too – good ensemble work, tight breaks, the increasing presence of the piano, and then a cheeky pay-off.

This last was written for his father and A Psalm for Phennie is another song for his mother, a soulful and never earnest salute with strong themes. The band does well by Herbie Hancock’s One Finger Snap, especially Gonzalez at the piano stool, though there’s a long and authoritative drum solo too and Harrold takes a tight solo into the bargain. Occasionally the playing can get a little claustrophobic and there’s a relentlessness to one or two tracks that won’t be to all tastes. Nevertheless, it’s good to encounter Afro Blue, the Mongo Santamaria song, where Gonzalez solos with variety and stylistic versatility, and to encounter the only real ballad performance at the very end of the set. Suffused with feeling and some blues phrases, Tenderly is idiosyncratically but thoughtfully programmed here. It ends an album of personal biography, instrumental finesse, and forthright intensity.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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