Glenn Wilson’s “Timely” is a live recording taken from two gigs during 2012 at Havana Nights Jazz Club in Virginia Beach. Not that you would immediately realise this until you hear the applause half way through the first track; the sound recording is that good. Excellent quality, although one could perhaps argue it loses some of the ambience and vibe that a live recording sometimes gives. Maybe you can’t have your cake and eat it.
Glenn Wilson is a baritone saxophonist with decades of experience, having performed with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente and Bob Belden, to name but a few. And it shows; his quintet breeze through compositions by such masters as Wayne Shorter, Pepper Adams, Larry Willis and Bob Dorough. Wilson’s quintet on “Timely” is made up of the main man himself on baritone sax, John D’Earth on trumpet, John Toomey on piano, Jimmy Masters on bass and Tony Martucci on drums. Full respect is given to the compositions as this consummate five-piece inject their own personality into the music with a performance that is solid and skilful throughout. There are some excellent solos from both horn players and an obvious connection between the two, their harmonies working particularly well together with a seasoned ease that many would struggle to find. Wilson makes the point: “John and I have such a great rapport and hear the music so similarly that when we improvise together, compositions are created that have never existed before and will never be heard again. That journey to unknown destinations is what makes the music so fresh and unrepeatable. It’s what real jazz is all about.” The rhythm section drives and swings in an infectious manner and you can’t help but tap your feet and nod your head in time as you listen appreciatively along. It’s a pleasure to hear a rhythm section so on top of their game as they are here. All the tunes are accessible and even some of the edgier soloing is probably still within most listener’s comfort zone.
Standout tracks for me include Bob Belden’s “Fat Beat” which provides a great platform for the two horn players, along with an entertaining solo from pianist John Toomey. There’s some adventurous sax and trumpet interplay on Wayne Shorter’s excellent “Sightseeing”, and on “Diabolique II” Wilson and D’Earth create a good example of what the band leader calls an “improvised composition”. “To wisdom the prize” showcases the band well as a unit, each member playing their part very effectively. The title track embodies the spirit of what this album’s all about; a great jazz tune performed by some great musicians all sounding as if they’re having a good time.
Over all, “Timely” is a very well executed and likeable album showcasing jazz musicians breathing life and nostalgia into tunes from an almost bygone era. Gone but still very alive thanks to albums like this. As the middle aged man in a family currently spanning three generations, I would say “yeah, nice jazz”, my son would say “Dad, it’s just Sunday afternoon jazz”, and my dad would say “Son, this is proper jazz, it swings!”