Jack Wilkins ‘Windows’ LP (WeWantSounds) 4/5

Some readers may first have become aware of the classic Freddie Hubbard composition ‘Red Clay’ via the sampled version from A Tribe Called Quest on ‘Midnight Marauders’ album of the early 1990s. If that is the case, then what you heard was a laid back drum groove and distinctive electric bass interpretation from a trio guitar formation headed by Jack Wilkins on the guitar, and this is the first ever re-issue in the UK of that album. In reality, the album contains an awful lot more to enjoy, not least some of the lovely self-penned pieces by the leader. Wilkins had the knack of choosing a post-bop jazz number and invest the piece with his own virtuosity. Such is the case of Chick Corea’s ‘Windows’, which Stan Getz used on one of his most compelling Verve albums. Here, the gentle intro leads into a medium tempo waltz with bass in close attendance. Even more surprising is Wayne Shorter’s ‘Pinocchio’ from the tenorist’s tenure in the Miles Davis quintet. This is more problematic for a guitar trio to capture, yet the staccato intro is skilfully weaved in and, in the main motif, the piece is instantly recognisable. A genuine treat is in store on the subtly crafted take on the John Coltrane ballad, ‘Naima’, with deft brush work, and a clear delineated guitar solo. Of the originals, ‘Canzona’ impresses most, with a rapid rhythm guitar into and some heavy bass lines while the lively drum rolls are a joy to behold. Mainstream records released this album in 1973 and it pretty much sank without trace, before rappers and the hip-hop generation re-discovered the hidden gem. Available on vinyl only, this is a re-issue that is well worth checking out. A noteworthy point to mention Bill Goodwin, who was a favoured drummer of other musicians and featured on the well received Tom Waits double live in the studio outing, ‘Nighthawks At The Diner’ as well as recording elsewhere with Gary Burton, Hal Galper, Gábor Szabó and Paul Horn. His drumming and percussion work is the foundation for this 1973 release.

Tim Stenhouse