NYC Jazz Record
If he had known he would have gotten this kind of party, guitarist Jack Wilkins definitely wouldn’t have waited 69 years to turn 70.
The birthday boy was fêted for a pair of two-hour sets at the Jazz Standard (July 1st), guitar royalty in attendance both onstage and in the audience. The second set began with Wilkins afront a trio of bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Drummond, playing clean and focused versions of Vernon Duke’s “Takin’ a Chance on Love” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day”. Wilkins then performed in a spritely duo with Howard Alden on a calypso-ish take of Burt Bacharach’s “Arthur’s Theme”, full of playful banter and excellent listening. Wilkins gave over the stage to fingerstyle guru Gene Bertoncini, who himself turned 77 a day after Wilkins and played lovely, if a bit halting, on “Estate”, David Raksin’s “The Bad and the Beautiful” (which Bertoncini said described Wilkins perfectly) and “I’m All Smiles”, ending with a “Happy Birthday” quote. The crowd was hushed for Joe Diorio in duo with one of his students, the first time the legendary guitarist was playing live following a 2005 stroke, and raucous for Wilkins, S and Drummond in a quartet with Jimmy Bruno. The highlight of the evening was the rhythm section buoying the progressive duo of Vic Juris and John Abercrombie on a 17-minute “Yesterdays”, atmsopheric but still swinging, and then the closing “Wee” by Denzil Best, Wilkins, Juris, S and Drummond joined by Larry Coryell, three distinct branches of the ash or curly maple tree.
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Review- Birthday Party at the Jazz Standard