line of alumni from the Duke Ellington, Count Basie,
Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Charles Mingus and Lennie
Tristano bands... A rhythm section of
cream-of-the-crop younger players... Jazz and pop
standards alongside newer works... Producer Gunther
Schuller, a 1994 Pulitzer Prize and Down Beat magazine
Lifetime Achievement Award winner...
Playing for Keeps — Britt Woodman, Joe Wilder, John LaPorta —
three seasoned elder statesmen who long ago established
stellar reputations as important jazz artists, but who
(then in the twilight of their careers) were hard to find.
All three had remarkable careers.
73-year-old trombonist Woodman with
Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and then his boyhood friend
Charles Mingus solidified his reputation as the droll,
eye-twinkling, sardonically witty master of the ‘plunger/growl.’
Trumpeter Joe Wilder, 71, the youngster
of the group, spent his early years in some of the same
bands as Woodman, then moved on to prominence with Count
Basie, as well as studio and pit work in which he
displayed extraordinary facility in both the classical and
jazz realms. Warm, rich tone, love for the trumpet’s
low register, melodic invention and urbane worldliness are
hallmarks of the Wilder style, fluency is his calling
John LaPorta, 73, first drew national
attention five decades ago, going on to play with Woody
Herman, Charles Mingus and Lennie Tristano, then teaching
at the Manhattan School of Music. His playing maintains a
very contemporary quality (witness his 1987 work with
Orange Then Blue on Music for Jazz Orchestra) and
is loaded with vitality and surprise.
The never-less-than-amazing Jack Wilkins
on guitar and the sinewy, subtitle push of Ed and George
Schuller on bass and drums provide the harmonic and
rhythmic underpinnings of this session.