Abram Wilson Life Paintings Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

He crams every ounce of his experience, joyfully, into each track.

Kathryn Shackleton 2009

It’s rare to find a classy composer who’s a phenomenal trumpet player too, but Abram Wilson proves he’s both on Life Paintings, his third album for Dune Recordings.

Hailing from New Orleans and living in London, Wilson mixes a gumbo of influences to write pieces that are accessible but have a challenging edge to them.

Style and attitude are his hallmarks. Obama, Wilson’s tribute to the current US president, opens with foreboding military drums and a tolling piano but bursts into a swinging celebration where there’s equal solo space for everyone in the quartet.

There’s a European essence to several tracks on Life Paintings, too. With its tender theme and understated arrangement, Even Though You’re Bad For Me has the feel of an Esbjörn Svensson ballad. It’s the perfect backdrop for Wilson’s gentle vibrato and pure tone, and promising young pianist Peter Edwards resists any temptation to overcomplicate it.

Each piece on the album is teeming with ideas (sultry Latin in The Eyes of Belladonna, wahs and warbles in Snake in the Grass, discordant passages in Chasing Mosquito Hawks) but Wilson retains tight control over the shape of the music. Reminders of the melody return to hook the listener in and hints of reggae and ska sit happily next to echoes of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard.

As a successful composer, musician and actor, Wilson has a wealth of experience to base this series of musical sketches on, and he crams every ounce of it, joyfully, into each track.

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