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The Complete Blue Note Sessions
Don Wilkerson
The Complete Blue Note Sessions
Genre: Jazz
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #2

Don Wilkerson was a saxophonist in the mold of Gene Ammons and Willis Jackson, a big-toned, booting Texas tenor player who mixed blues, swing, and bop into a joyous, soulful brew. A mainstay of Ray Charles's band, he contr...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Don Wilkerson
Title: The Complete Blue Note Sessions
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Blue Note Records
Release Date: 2/13/2001
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genre: Jazz
Style: Bebop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 724352455522, 0724352455553, 724352455522

Don Wilkerson was a saxophonist in the mold of Gene Ammons and Willis Jackson, a big-toned, booting Texas tenor player who mixed blues, swing, and bop into a joyous, soulful brew. A mainstay of Ray Charles's band, he contributed tenor solos to hits such as "I Got a Woman" but never achieved the enduring fame of band-mate David Newman. He recorded three sessions for Blue Note in 1962 and 1963, all collected on this two-CD set. It's classic soul jazz, riff-based and driving, with Wilkerson touching on a variety of bases, from bar-walking roadhouse shuffles to the rolling gospel of "Camp Meeting" and some gorgeous sweet-toned balladry on "Poor Butterfly" and "Easy Living." Guitarist Grant Green is present on all three sessions, playing with a grittier edge than usual, and there are strong contributions from other Blue Note regulars as well. Hard-bop pianist Sonny Clark and drummer Billy Higgins take some real delight in getting back to basics on the first session, while organist John Patton lays down a carpet of sounds both sanctified and funky on the third. The second session, with drummer Willie Bobo, has Wilkerson touching on the Latin and western sides of his Texas background, even mixing them together on Bob Wills's "San Antonio Rose." --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

A Soul Jazz Treat
Ron Frankl | Hendersonville, NC | 03/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 2 CD set is a real treat. Don Wilkerson is now almost forgotten, but in the mid-1950's he was the saxophone soloist in Ray Charles' band on many of the singer's earliest and biggest hits. Wilkerson went on to record a few jazz albums for Blue Note in the early '60's before disappearing from the scene. This package includes all three of Wilkerson's Blue Note releases.The "soul jazz" movement of the Fifties and Sixties was an attempt to marry the energy and passion of rhythm & blues with jazz, and represented the last real attempt to market jazz as pop music. For a few years it worked, due to such talents as Hank Mobley, Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan and King Curtis. The movement broke little new ground but produced some worthwhile music, before it lost favor with both the musicians and the public.Despite his lack of fame, Wilkerson proves to be a master of the genre. What sets him apart is a highly original sound on the tenor sax, as he possesses an unusually light and emotive voice on the instrument. He's a solid improviser, too.Accompanying Wilkerson are some of the finest musicians in the Blue Note stable, including such favorites as pianist Sonny Clark and guitarist Grant Green. Both Clark and Green shine here, and their rapport with Wilkerson is impressive.This set belongs in the collections of any fan of soul jazz, the Blue Note sound, and Sixties jazz in general. Fifteen years after the saxophonist's death, this release should go far in establishing Wilkerson as one of the major talents of his era."
Roadhouse Jazz
J. Davidson | Boston, MA USA | 02/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Don Wilkerson was the sax player for Ray Charles in the 50's. This box set collects his three early 60's Blue Note recordings, and, as one might expect from those references, it straddles the line between R&B and Jazz.First discovered some of these recordings on some of the Blue Note collection discs (i.e. the "Groovy" and "Funky" compilations). If, like me, you loved Wilkerson's songs there, you'll love this box set as well. These are amazing, soulful songs that really groove. Grant Green plays on all the recordings and if you're a fan of GG, as I am, you'll dig this almost as much for his presence and licks. (If you ever wondered what a collaboration between Grant Green and King Curtis, for example, might have sounded like, wonder no more.) This is the kind of R&B/Jazz with Soul that you could picture being played in a roadhouse on a Friday night.As remastered, the sound quality of these recordings is also excellent, clean and crisp and detailed but not too sharp. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes their Jazz to groove."