Steve Wilson: Passages
. There is much variety to be found here, although Wilson manages to present this well-rounded picture without the whole sounding like a disjointed and patchwork quilt. The three tracks featuring Nicholas Payton cover quite a range in themselves, from the bop-inflected "Turnin' the Corner" to the expansive "Q-B-Rab." The latter starts with a funk groove only to develop into sections of swing and free moments with Payton's trumpet and Wilson's alto exchanging explosive banter.
An agreeable bossa/Latin influence can be felt elsewhere, with Adam Cruz adding percussion to his trap set work. "Song for Anna" features Wilson's pensive flute on a nimble melody, supported beautifully by Bruce Barth's use of a Fender Rhodes electric piano. The Rhodes shows up again for Keith Jarrett's classic "Days and Nights Waiting." The short interludes "Roots and Herbs" and "Wilsonian's Grain" are essentially percussion workouts that create a tasty segue between the other tunes.
The integration of the ensemble is particularly strong, although Wilson gets the lion's share of the solo spotlight. As strapping as his work is throughout, it might have been nice to hear a bit more from Payton and Barth. Regardless, Passages is prime Wilson and bodes well of his staying power and future development as an artist.
Track Listing: Turnin
Personnel: Steve Wilson: alto and soprano saxophones, flute and alto flute, percussion; Nicholas Payton: trumpet (1, 4, 6); Bruce Barth: piano & Fender Rhodes; Ed Howard: bass, Adam Cruz: drums and percussion.
Record Label: Concord Music Group