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Having a deep baritone voice with a three-octave range and an adventurous spirit, Joe Lee Wilson performed with many notable jazz musicians during the 1960's including Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Pharoah Sanders, Jackie McLean, and Miles Davis. Many consider him one of the foremost singers of his generation. In the 1970's, Wilson was one of the originators and leaders of the New York Jazz Loft scene, in which musicians ran their own informal clubs and booked modern and avant-garde musicians. He ran his loft (the Ladies' Fort) for six years and organized a loft festival. During that decade he gained some recognition for his singing on Archie Sheep albums, and also worked with Freddie Hubbard. This album, recorded in 1976, is a wonderful display of Wilson's talent, adventurous nature, and generous heart. From the first track to the last, it is absolutely clear that this jazz great never gave less than his entire self to his art. "Jazz is my religion. When I sing, it is wonderful to see the audience so responsive and happy."
|Soloist/Artist||Joe Lee Wilson|
|Instruments||Music and Musicians|
|Accompanist/ Conductor||Steve Sax - saxophone & flute, Jack Gregg - bass, Bobby Few - piano, Al Levitt - drums|
Customer Reviews (3)
- Solar Shining!Review by Big Toots
The surname “Wilson” is fairly common one in jazz – Cassandra, Nancy, Teddy, Gerald, even trombonist Phil and others. Sadly, vocalist Joe Lee’s “Wilson” won’t pop into mind on that listing unless one is a fan of Archie Shepp or an attendee at Wilson’s well-known-around-town “Ladies’ Fort” NoHo jazz loft in 1970s New York. Perhaps this interesting recording might alter that.
Joe Lee Wilson is arguably one of the most under-the-radar vocalists ever to exhale into a microphone. A baritone with a tenor’s “eyes,” Wilson was a blues-drenched artist who had a penchant for experimentation and exploration - thus his founding the aforementioned “Ladies’ Fort” loft and his appeal to and performances with Archie Shepp, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Eddie Jefferson and others.
Secrets of the Sun sends up 7 cuts of varying format and type from light bossa (“Come and See, A Sparrow Singing Jazz”) to down and dusty Okie blues (“Nice and Easy – Such a Lovely Day”), the freely expressive (“Dedicated to My Father,” “Mode for Trane”) and straight-ahead and scatting cooker (“Jazz Ain’t Nothing but Soul”). Across the session, Wilson shows a unique ability to cover the diverse grooves with fine style, if not a wonderfully attractive voice (even though he studied opera early on). His upper register strains somewhat, however, that adds to Wilson’s uniqueness – he knows what he is and lets it all fly. His performance on “Over the Rainbow,” for example, is mildly reminiscent (and certainly in a different vocal register) of “Little” Jimmy Scott. Wilson had that same intense interaction with lyric line as Scott. Further another “Scott” – Gil Scott-Heron is shaded on “Mode for Trane.”
The supporting musicians on this session are superb and completely up to the intensity and energy level expressed by Wilson. Steve Sax (reputed to be a nom de saxophone, he being a well-known artist under contract to another label) is on fire, as are pianist, Bobby Few, bassist Jack Gregg and drummer, Al Levitt.
If you’d like to get a taste (and he is an acquired one) of a truly unique and uniquely intense male vocal artist, Wilson’s your guy. If Miles and Sonny and Archie wanted him, so might you. Get your “Sun” glasses and let Joe Lee Wilson eclipse you.
(Posted on 5/5/2015)
- Secrets From The SunReview by Simon Sez
Secrets From The Sun is one of Joe Lee Wilson’s best recordings. He leads a very modern quartet that includes Steve Sax (a perfect name for a reed player) and Bobby Few on piano. Listen to what he does to “Over The Rainbow.’ I remember “Jazz Ain’t Nothing But Soul” from Betty Carter’s version. Wilson does John Coltrane justice on “Mode For Trane” and shows plenty of energy throughout this very good CD.
Simon Sez: Joe Lee Wilson, one of the best jazz singers of the 1970s, is excellent on Secrets From The Sun (IC1042), sounding pretty original. (Posted on 5/6/2014)
- Review by Michael G. Nastos
The rough-and-tumble swing he employed is faithfully produced on this collection where Wilson is also featured as a lyricist, fronting his quartet with the fantastic pianist Bobby Few, bassist Jack Gregg, drummer Al Levitt, and woodwind player Steve Sax.
This recording was long overdue for a CD release, but is now available in that format. (Posted on 6/14/2013)
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