on July 23, 2006
Within the first minute of the opening track of Rob Wilkerson's Imaginary Landscape, he has taken simple but interesting chords and turned them into a melody that is original, beautiful, and symmetrical. I knew right away that this was going to be a great album. It is, from top to bottom, one of the very best in my collection.
Imaginary Landscape is that rare contemporary jazz album that is adventurous but not pretentious. The melodies are beautiful and accessible, the chords are fresh, the improvisation is heartfelt but down to earth - the entire album is soaked with genuine expertise. These are players who have honed their craft, and advanced beyond the place where they are out to impress (the place occupied by so many jazz artists today) and have made an album with the universal appeal of really fine music.
Much of the album is mellow and laid back. The title track is serene. Two tracks, For Walt and Confirmation, are imaginative takes on more traditional styles. My current favorite on the album is the mysterious Rabp Dance, which has a stop-what-you're-doing, close your eyes, and sway your head kind of groove to it.
I love that the liner notes imply, "Yeah, he's got a master's degree, but don't let that turn you away." Jazz listeners are a skeptical bunch. Play with too much heart, and they'll stick their nose up and call you unoriginal. Get too original and they'll say you don't have enough heart. I had the privilege of hearing Wilkerson play before he could even be called an up-and-comer, and I knew, as does anyone who has ever encountered him in a club or on the road, that his talent transcends all attempts to rank and categorize musicians like expensive wine. Imaginary Landscape is a special album because it will be enjoyed by the Norah Jones fan just as much as the Keith Jarrett fan. It can be listened to as mood music in the background, as a challenging composition assignment in a university class, or anywhere in between.
Good music is just like that. I hope Wilkerson gives us a lot more of it.
on May 18, 2006
I love "Imaginary Landscape". This album is full of good music. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys jazz. As Rob Wilkerson himself says, the album is best listened to from beginning to end. The thing is, once you've finished, you'll want to listen to it again and again. I can't wait for the next one to be out!