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Marshall Gilkes with the WDR Big Band


Alternate Side Records

In the minds of many jazz fans the German city of Köln will always be associated with "The Köln Concert" by Keith Jarrett. Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band have just released "Köln," an album so powerful it's bound to claim some of the Köln magic for itself. Gilkes is well known for his trombone work with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and the WDR Big Band is one of the world's greatest jazz orchestras, so it not surprising that they have produced a superb disc.

Gilkes, who recently spent four years in the VDR Band, expands well beyond trombone on this outing. He only plays on three of the tracks but his writing and arranging are every bit as stunning as his solos. Gilkes wrote all but one of the album's tunes and arranged all of them. I'm not sure why trombonists tend to be great arrangers (Bob Brookmeyer, Slide Hampton, etc.) but Gilkes clearly joins that tradition with tunes like "Vesper" and "End in Sight." His voicings are always original, his sound crisp and fresh. When he does solo, like on his gorgeous composition, "Edenderry," Gilkes can take the trombone from bluesy roughness to French Horn-like smoothness effortlessly.

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