NO GREATER LOVE is Joe Wilder's second recording for Evening Star. The trumpeter's first CD, ALONE WITH JUST MY DREAMS, was named one of the top 24 jazz CDs of 1993 by CD Review. Wilder, who was born in Philadelphia in 1922, has succeeded in three demanding musical realms: jazz, classical, and studio work. Wilder was initially drawn to classical music, but symphony work was denied black artists in the 1930s and 1940s. The trumpeter's equally impressive jazz talents were sought after by many of the leading big bands, including Lionel Hampton, Jimmie Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie, and Count Basie. In the 1950s, Wilder penetrated the color barrier of the New York studios, serving on staff at ABC from 1952 to 1974. He eventually realized his dream of playing classical trumpet, as well. Wilder earned a degree at the Manhattan School of Music, played on several occasions with the New York Philharmonic, and was named principal trumpet of the Symphony of the New World. He has recently lent his talents to two leading jazz repertory orchestras: the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
No Greater Love showcases Wilder's lyrical trumpet in two settings. Six tracks were recorded with a swinging small ensemble featuring Seldon Powell on tenor sax and flute, Bobby Tucker on piano (in his return as a soloist after some 45 years as jazz's premiere vocal accompanist), James Chirillo on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass, and Sherman Ferguson on drums. The remaining eight selections pair the trumpet master with Tucker and Chirillo for a series of intimate duets and trio performances.
CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR NO GREATER LOVE
Performance: ***** Sound quality: ***** ...exquisite individuality, prodigious wit, and impeccable style.
-- Fred Bouchard, CD Review
The duos and trios emphasize theme statements with Wilder working like a singer. He has the warm tone and vocal approach to carry this off. He's honed his instrumental voice down to what's truly his own. Clearly he's heard and worked with a lot of singers, and singers interested in learning how to deliver a song would do well to give Wilder a listen. Tucker, who has worked with Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, and Tony Bennett, shows why he is so in demand as a singer's accompanist. Chirillo, who is busy developing an impressive resume himself, also provides sensitive, inspiring back-up... This is a masterful display of Wilder's lyrical horn.
-- David Dupont, Cadence
The overall striking thing about this album is its unabashed love of melodies and the warm combinations of notes that these guys weave... We must note that the tune "That's All" is here and that any album which contains that haunting tune is among our favorites. Joe's version is as memorable as any of those I have come to adore... Evening Star has managed another exceptional album. We recommend this highly.
-- George Wilson, Jersey Jazz
**** [highest rating]
This small indie label already brought us a long overdue album from veteran septuagenarian trumpeter Wilder last year... This one is even better. Among the gems on the album are a lyrical, Harmon-muted trumpet/piano duet on Duke Ellington's "Daydream," a poignant open trumpet/piano duet on "That's All" and a surprisingly effective wah-wah trumpet/guitar duo interpretation of Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender."
-- George Kanzler, Newark Star-Ledger
In this generous helping of music, quantity is matched by quality from all three veteran soloists and from James Chirillo, a guitarist whose lineage includes both Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. On drums is the underrated Sherman Ferguson and on bass Milt Hinton, at 83 sounding better than ever. Playing beautiful ideas without unnecessary display, Wilder achieves variety through his craftsmanship with mutes. But his hallmark is the glow of his open horn, which is stunning... If you don't know Joe Wilder, this album is a good way to meet him.
-- Doug Ramsey, Jazz Times