Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gerald Wilson's Teri

This tune was originally released on Moment Of Truth, the same album as Nancy Jo, but is a ballad rather than a burner. The guitar is featured here, right from the first note. Brass and saxes need to be very very understated except for the occasional moments when the trombone and trumpet responses to the melody become more strident. Bari should speak up to the extent appropriate in context (relative to the whole ensemble) when you have key parts of the bass line—the strong sax voice is really the bari here. Piano should bring out the color responses to the same extent heard on the recording.

The liner notes to the original LP have this to say: Teri (named for one of the three daughters of Wilson) is the highlight of the album for this writer. A setting in moody ballad form for Joe Pass, it features him non-amplified. Pass gets a splendid harp-like quality, with the band providing a sighing subtle background. . . . Gerald's ballads are really jazz tunes, however, as surely as any up-tempo jazz standard and as far from Tin Pan alley as you can get.”

The original recording features Joe Pass, one of the greatest jazz guitarists. He has more than fifty (50) albums under his own name, in addition to countless sessions as a sideman. He is even heard on the final 1973 Ellington small group album, Duke's Big 4. The Wilson recording was made only a year after Pass' debut album, Songs Of Synanon, was released; that album was named after a drug treatment center—and, later, a cult and self-proclaimed “church”—where Pass spent time in the early 1960s. Pass recorded so many albums on Norman Granz's Pablo label in the 1970s that sometimes think he was to Pablo what Bird and Diz were to Verve.

Forty years later, Wilson re-recorded the chart with his son, Anthony Wilson, in the featured role. The 2002 recording, from New York New Sound, is notable especially for the more transparent microphone work that seems to have produced a lot more transparency in the end recording. Even though most critics believe that Wilson has never exceeded the caliber of his 1960s big band, the advances in recording technology seem to have allowed the studio in 2002 to separate out the voices much better. You can now clearly hear, for example, the lead alto, which is subsumed by the ensemble far more in the original recording.

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