48. Don Wilkerson / Complete Blue Note Sessions (2001)
A nice release from Blue Note, culling tracks from the four LPs they released for Wilkerson from 1960-63. It's a double disc and the remastered sound is on par with the other excellent Blue Note re-releases. Wilkerson was a tenor who worked with a variety of artists including Ray Charles and Cannonball Adderley (no surprise) and was at home playing blues-based and danceable soul jazz that was easily related to ("Senorita Eula," "Drawin' A Tip,"). With a sophisticated sense of melodic variation and good use of legato dynamics, he steps beyond the prereqs for soul jazz and creates a unique blend that rewards if you listen closely. He's also fond of repeated, motivic phrases that carry the groove. The bands he plays with, especially the combo with Graham Greene, know right where he's at, and turn up the heat when he finishes a chorus. Wilkerson's "San Antonio Rose" (with a cooking solo by Greene) stands out to as a particular good take, so does the interesting "Pigeon Peas" which has me listening a few times over to catch what Wilkerson is doing with the drums. It's fine stuff, top to bottom.