Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jack Wilkins 1991 [1996] "Alien Army"

A superior, slightly underrated improviser, Jack Wilkins has proven on his infrequent recordings as a leader that he ranks near the top. Wilkins, who studied with John Mehegan early on, learned vibes, piano, and classical guitar, but has stuck to jazz guitar throughout his career. He gained a strong reputation during his long association with Buddy Rich. Since then, he has recorded as a sideman with Jack DeJohnette, Eddie Gomez, Phil Woods, Harvie Swartz, and the Brecker Brothers, among others. But it is his own recordings for Mainstream, Music Masters, CTI, and especially his pair of essential Chiaroscuro albums in 1977 (the single CD Merge reissued all of the music except one song) that allow one to hear what a talented player Jack Wilkins has always been.

Alien Army, the name of the disc, is also the name of this new Big Apple-based band led by guitarist Jack Wilkins.

At a time when the adult contemporary airwaves are saturated with jazz wannabees, Wilkins offers modern music rooted in tradition, filled with energy, and rock-solid in its depth. Wilkins' collaborators both as performers and writers are drummer Mike Clark (back from last year's fine Wilkins outing Call Him Reckless), the double bassist Michael Formanek, and keyboard player Marc Puricelli.

The band's inability to be pigeonholed makes the listening all the more fun. Wilkins & Co. constantly are throwing surprises into the mix. Just when your feet get used to tapping along to the lively swing of one passage of a weird medley called Fun Fat, things turn avant-garde. Puricelli's No Time but Now is an R&B-rooted burn.

Wilkins shifts from electric guitar to acoustic for the lovely gypsy-tinged original Moon Rain, which is enriched by Puricelli's haunting synthesizer work. Other dandies include She's the One, Barcelona Rising and a wishful ballad aptly called Romance.

Guitarist Jack Wilkins has been on the International jazz scene since the early 1970's. His flawless technique and imaginative chordal approach have inspired collaborations with Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan, Bob Brookmeyer, and Buddy Rich among many others. A native of Brooklyn, Jack began playing guitar at age thirteen. His mentors included Johnny Smith, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Bill Evans, Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard.

“Windows”, his first album as a leader (Mainstream, 1973,) also available in transcription published by Hal Leonard Publications has been critically acclaimed as a dazzling, seminal guitar trio work.

Later recordings, “Merge”, “Mexico”, “Call Him Reckless”, “Alien Army”, “Keep in Touch”, and “Trioart”, feature the Brecker Brothers, Eddie Gomez, Jack De Johnette, Al Foster, Phil Woods, Kenny Drew, Jr., and many others. Project G7, a two CD set tribute to Wes Montgomery, features Kenny Burrell among others.

In recent years, Jack has played many international festivals with jazz greats Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Heath, The Mingus Epitaph, 5 Guitars play Mingus, Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, Johnny Griffin and others.

A consummate accompanist, Wilkins has played and recorded with renowned singers Mel Torme, Ray Charles, Morgana King, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr, Tony Bennett, Manhattan Transfer, Nancy Marano, Chris Conner, Cassandra Wilson, and Jay Clayton. Wilkins was awarded an NEA grant in recognition of his work and contribution to the guitar. He has been widely and prominently profiled in such publications as Guitar Player, Just Jazz Guitar, Downbeat, 20th Century Guitar and Leonard Feather’s Jazz Encyclopedia. Jack was invited to the Smithsonian Institution as part of the Blue Guitars exhibit, and appeared on the P.S. I. first live jazz Internet concert. He was also featured on the J.V.C. festival tributes to Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, Herb Ellis, and Barney Kessel

Wilkins teaches at The New School, Manhattan School of Music, NYU, and LIU. He was invited to judge the Monk Institute Guitar Competitions in Washington. He also conducts seminars on the “Great American Songbook”, and guitar clinics, both in New York and abroad. His latest CD's, "Reunion", “Christmas Jazz Guitar” the DVD”s, “The Benedetto Players in Concert”, “The Benedetto Players and Guild Jazz Masters”, and “Jazz Guitar Workshop” are all currently available. A new CD is now available called “Until It’s Time” on the Maxjazz label.

When talking to Jack Wilkins, you hear the phrase "to me" more than any other. While the opinions he expresses are deeply held and reflect great thought, he seems intent on not forcing those opinions on others.

Born in 1944, Wilkins began playing very early and played "the rock and roll of my day". He did not attend college to study music but studied privately with several teachers, even studying classical guitar for five years and piano for two years. His first professional gig was at 18 and he played with many local bands in his native New York.

Since those humble beginnings, Wilkins has played with a wide range of the truly great musicians of our time including (to name only a few) Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Bill Evans, Zoot Sims, Dizzy Gillespie, Manhattan Transfer, the Brecker Brothers, and Phil Woods.

Currently, Wilkins lives in New York city, plays several nights per week, travels, records and is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, NYU, and Long Island University.

His latest recording, "Alien Army" is available on the Music Masters label.

Track listing:

1 Happy Eyes 5:41
2 Barcelona Rising 6:57
3 Chess 7:41
4 No Time But Now 5:45
5 Fun Fat (Sweet) Fornix 3:40
6 Clean Dreamer 1:54
7 Pod Dance 8:19
8 Moon Rain 5:58
9 She's the One 5:33
10 Romance 2:40


Jack Wilkins - Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Marc Puricelli - Piano, Keyboards
Mike Clark - Drums
Michael Clark - Bass
Michael Formanek - Bass, Bass (Acoustic)


  1. http://www81.zippyshare.com/v/8Yln4yIh/file.html

  2. nice post, check out this jazz boot site w/ an unbelievable sounding jack wilkins show. http://cipjazz.eu/?s=wilkins&searchsubmit=

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. it took me a while to find,check in responses for the pass.the show is worth it.

  5. Hello,
    First of all thank you for all these musicians that I did not know, is this cd a mono version?, anyway, it sounds good, thank you.
    Best Regards