|To label someone's music light and hip, is no put-down at least, not in the case of this apparently populist mix of jazz, R&B, soul, spoken word, hip hop, and electronics because, after listening, you might appreciate this recording as the product of Wilkes and his sophisticated perspective on jazz.
In slow tunes like "Searchin'", and the heavy vamp of "Remy's Revenge" (where a free bop trumpet solo finishes in appealing, upper register flurries), echoes of the Miles Davis recording, Miles Smiles, otherwise abound, along with the occasional solo hints of a musical future.
Whereas the electronic tunes like "Drop It", "Ubiquitous Budafly", and "Funkier than a Mosquita's Tweeter" (they're all atmospheric with the shimmer and ring of a Fender Rhodes and the electric throb of bassist Junius Paul) remind you of Davis's Amandla album.
But, with each of Miyanda Wilson's spoken word performances, listener focus totally gets changed. Her recitation in "Trumpet Player" and her wordless syllable sounds in "Ubiquitous Budafly" consistently depict a stark urban reality of people struggling in society. Unlike the instrumental tunes which uplift and suggest alternatives, Wilson's tracks firmly plunk you into the street and its instant demands.
Lastly, "Touch" deserves mention because it's played just about right. A breathy flugelhorn and Nabors' tenor state the forward motion inchworm theme. Wilkes' solo proves measured but open to impulse, and the tune ends on a held trumpet/tenor note.
I've previously heard Corey Wilkes with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ernest Dawkins, Kahil El'Zabar's Ethic Heritage Ensemble, and Nicole Mitchell, and while I frankly prefer this work, I accept Drop It for what it is Wilkes' authentically personal statement about music. Music that lives next door to jazz.
by David Fujino December 2008