Jazz Times May 2006 byAaron Steinberg
For his debut recording as a leader, trombonist Marshall Gilkes gives himself the widest possible exposure. Every tune is his save for Rogers and Hammerstein’s “This Nearly Was Mine.” Pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Johnathan Blake provide solid accompaniment and play with energy, and Gilkes takes plenty of solo space. The nicely contoured set runs smoothly from Afro-Cuban to bop to ballads, and it all sounds pretty good, but the CD wouldn’t stand out from 100 other adequately crafted mainstream jazz records if not for Gilkes.
Trombonists built for the speed, jumps and tight turns of bebop don’t seem to be falling out of trees these days (if they ever did), so it’s really refreshing to come across a player like Gilkes. His impressive facility on the awkward horn puts him in the J.J. Johnson lineage. He sounds fine on the ballads, where he plays with the slightest hint of terminal vibrato, but his ripe tone and aggressive soloing on the faster numbers really stand out. Look no farther than the interval-leaping opening melodic statement on the recording’s first tune, “Puddle Jumping.” Bebop trombone enthusiasts (if you’re out there), you might want to check this out.
Jazz Times May 2006
All About Jazz by Mark F. Turner
Many of us jazz fans love them ‘bones... trombones, that is. Though they're overshadowed by countless saxophones and trumpets in the jazz arena, when placed in the hands of a capable musician, there’s nothing like the instrument’s timbre and presence in creating a lasting impression. Edenderry reveals yet another young trombonist who knows how to create sweet music from the unique instrument.
Born in Maryland with extended roots from Jersey to Colorado, Marshall Gilkes moved to New York, where his experience included studying with fellow trombonist Conrad Hedwig, performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Tito Puente, and becoming a finalist in the 2003 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. But the real question is this: can the young man play? And the answer from his trombone is a resounding yes.
What makes this recording special is not only Gilkes' handling of his instrument, but also his well-equipped quartet of pianist John Cowherd (Brian Blade, Liz Wright), bassist Matt Clohesy (Gary Bartz, Ingred Jensen), and drummer Johnathan Blake (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Randy Brecker). With original compositions written by Gilkes and a crew that is primed to perform, the music covers Gilkes' deep pool of influences, done in his own style.
The first selection, “Puddle Jumping,” mixes a funky Latin riff that suddenly transforms into rapid hard bop as the rhythm section smoothly handles the changes. Tight solos are handed off from piano to trombone, to drums, then back to the beginning riff with Gilkes giving a clinic in showmanship. His can make his trombone purr, growl, or bite at a second's notice. With a muscular yet rich tone, he steers the group slowly from a ballad to a hip bomba on the “Lost Path,” which features a heated dance tempo.
The quartet transitions nicely into more classics sounds of jazz on “This Nearly was Mine” and “Gilkean,” which recall the sounds of the '60s and show that the young players have done their homework. There is an aura of romanticism on “Dissonancia,” with some nice piano and tight work by the superb rhythm section. Each of the players is commendable, with a special nod to the fascinating drumming by Johnathan Blake. The soulful and thoughtful title piece concludes this impressive recording and marks the arrival of Marshall Gilkes as a trombonist/composer to watch and listen for.
Online Trombone Journal
By David M. Wilken
Marshall Gilkes’s debut solo album, Edenderry , will be a welcome addition to any jazz trombone fans’ CD collection. Although Gilkes has previously recorded as a sideman for the Big 3 Palladium Orchestra and David Berger, it wasn’t until the release of Edenderry that listeners could hear the spectrum of Gilkes’s style on recording. This project provides a number of different sides to his musical personality, ranging from straight ahead bebop to contemporary post-bop styles to a refreshing treatment of the Rogers & Hammerstien classic This Nearly Was Mine . The performances on this album range from an intense and in-your-face approach to more introspective and gentle playing.
Edenderry starts with a bang in the form of Gilkes’s original composition Puddle Jumping . After playing this opening track for a fellow trombone player he remarked, “This guy is out of control!” From the beginning of this track Gilkes shows a remarkable ability to maneuver between the pedal register of the trombone to the middle and upper register with fluidity and grace. His soloing on this composition shows not only that he has absorbed the lessons from the bebop trombone masters but also the harmonic language of the post-bop style not easily adapted on trombone. Drummer Johnathan Blake rounds out the solos on this track with a very musical solo that effectively moves from playing over the form of the composition to freely out of time before progressing back to the head. The transitions between swing and latin styles on this composition work very smoothly and along with Gilkes’s unaccompanied playing make this one of the most enjoyable tracks on this album.
The musicians show their more sensitive side on Gilkes’s compositions Waltz and the title track Edenderry . Not content with flash over substance, Gilkes and his band pace their solos extraordinarily well throughout so that each track explores a wide range of emotions within the cohesive context of each composition. The interaction of the rhythm section is strong without being overpowering to the soloists. Pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Clohesy, and Blake are sensitive accompanists as well as charismatic soloists throughout.
The packaging and cover art on the CD are very well done. The only criticism of this aspect of the album is that it would be nice to have some more liner notes to learn more about the performers and the music. Fortunately it does list Gilkes’s web site, marshallgilkes.com , where not only can you learn more about Marshall Gilkes but also listen to sound samples from Edenderry and order this album. Overall, this is a very enjoyable CD and we will hopefully be able to look forward to more solo work by Marshall Gilkes in the near future.