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Easterly Winds (1967)


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Lee Morgan

Easterly Winds provides an excellent contrast to Jack Wilson's first Blue Note album, Somethin' Personal. Where his label debut was cool and romantic, Easterly Winds is a brassy, funky collection of soul-jazz and hard bop with instant appealing. Wilson keeps the tone fairly diverse, both in his originals and covers. After hitting hard with the funky opening pair "Do It" and "On Children" (both of which illustrate that he was familiar with contemporary soul), he quiets the mood with a nice version of Johnny Mandel's "A Time for Love." On the second half, he turns in soul-jazz ("Easterly Winds"), straight hard bop ("Frank's Tune") and the charmingly lyrical "Nirvanna." Throughout it all, Wilson is subtle and tasteful, allowing trumpeter Lee Morgan and alto saxophonist Jackie McLean their time in the spotlight; trombonist Garnett Brown has a couple of nice moments as well, while bassist Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins lend solid rhythmic support. It's another impressive, enjoyable effort from one of the most underrated pianists on Blue Note's '60s roster. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine