Figments of My Imagination
Don Wilner | Self Published
By Javier Antonio Quiñones Ortiz
FROM "ALL ABOUT JAZZ"
The Musical Director of the Van Dyke Café, Miami Beach's leading jazz venue, serves the diminutive jazz audiences of South Florida quality music by accompanying various passing guests, as well asperforming with local ensembles, including his own. Figments of My Imagination, his second release under his name, is Don Wilner's latest. Take heed of this Brazilian enthused jazz recording featuring Eric Alexander and Kenny Drew, Jr.
Antonio Carlos Jobim enthusiasts will be happy to find the rest of the compositions in this generously extended release sheathed by four of the noted Brazilian's works. Said four Jobim bookends of the production enclose material from other expected Brazilian authors-such as Ivan Lins and Djavan-as well as not-so-Brazilian ones-such as Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington. They all become conduits for hearty jazz à la Brazil rather than syrupy melodic fare-a perennial temptation with the richly melodic Carioca repertoire-at the hands of Wilner and Co.
Take singer Rose Max. She invigorates the excellent rearrangements in which she participates-unfortunately the credits do not include information about the arrangements or when Drew performs on piano. Those minor quibbles aside, Max's pipes are up to the vocals tasks. On "O Morro Nao Tem Vez" and "Incompatibilidade de Genios" she sings with swinging and matronly cojones. In "Oceano," "Começar de Novo," and "A Felicidade" she's sultry, sensual, romantic and seductive. Her vocalizations reveal tonal strength, humor, fierceness, self-assurance, and beauty.
Bernstein's "Some Other Time" is just to die for. Wilner is simply a superb bass player who is quite adept with "the bowing of love" on this one. Although he knowledgeably uses the bow on other cuts, his performance here is very emotive. Sad yet hopeful. Nostalgic yet caressingly tender. The pianist, whether it is Mike Orta or Drew, might have overplayed his part here, albeit since it is just a duo, it could be taken as a movingly fortified foil to Wilner's playing. The rumbling tail end of the coda slays me!
Kick-ass interpretations characterize this CD, requiring various listenings to take in everything everyone did and how they interpreted the material.
END OF ALL ABOUT JAZZ REVIEW.
This CD is the product of my band 5 years playing together at the Van Dyke Cafe in Miami Beach. Perhaps the most unusual thing about this CD is that it features many melodies performed on the double bass- in the upper register- using the bow (arco).
Don Wilner- bassist, performs in both the classical and jazz genres. He earned his Doctorate at the University of Miami, was the Principle Bassist and a featured soloist with the Palm Beach Pops, and the Assistant Principle Bassist with the Miami City Ballet for many years. Don can be heard on his own debut album Mysterious Beauty, Eddie Higgins' Picture in Black & White, and Annette Sanders latest collaboration with Mike Renzi, Everything I Love, as well as on many other recordings. He is the author of several articles on jazz bass, including "Interactive Jazz Improvisation in the Bill Evan's Trio." An outstanding accompanist and soloist, he has performed and recorded with Maureen McGovern, Mark Murphy, Carmen McRae, James Moody, Ceder Walton, Tom Harrell, Fred Hersch, Toots Theilmans, Hubert Laws, Ira Sullivan, Eddie Harris, Dizzy Gelespie, Nat Adderley, Peter Nero, Harry Allen, Scott Hamilton, John Abercrombie, Michell LeGrand, and many others. Dr. Wilner is the Director of Musical Entertainment at the Van Dyke. Named Best Jazz Musician in Miami New Times Best of Miami Survey. Dr. Wilner also takes pride in his music program at the Van Dyke, which New Times labeled Best Jazz Club in Miami
"Wilner is one of the rare symphony musicians capable of first-rate jazz. His solos and interchanges . . . are lovely, and his upper-range arco playing has the vocal-like quality of a 'cello. Much of the program (with Higgins) has a Blanton-Ellington feel, rather than the usual 'piano with rhythm'." critic Art Hilgart
Doug Ramsey, the well-known music critic for Jazz Times Magazine, wrote "Wilner is an astonishing bass player whether bowing, walking, interacting . . . or covering the instrument from top to bottom in his pizzicato solos. His purity of tone and breadth of technique may come from his classical background. They are matched by a time feeling achieved only by musicians with a bone-deep jazz sensibility."
Trumpeter Tom Harrell says "Don can really tear it up. His chops and feeling make it a groove to play with him."