While two of the three previous jazz records guitarist/arranger Anthony Wilson made with producer Joe Harley were guitar/drum/organ sessions, this one also featuring those instruments is much different.
Though it’s definitely a jazz album, the inclusion of legendary rock drummer Jim Keltner instead of a more swinging, lighter touched jazz percussionist gives Jack of Hearts a much different anchor and a mostly retro-feel.
Keltner’s insistent drumming puts organist Larry Goldings in an equally steady groove and allows Wilson to play blockier and more aggressively than on previous albums.
Jazz purists might wonder about the choice of Keltner, who even when playing jazzy rhythms, is unmistakably a rock drummer by temperament and touch. Not being said purist, I think the choice was inspired. Even when on occasion you might be wishing for a slightly lighter, breezier touch, Keltner makes it interesting.
Sonically, you get everything you could hope for in a Michael C. Ross Oceanway live to two track analog production. There are sonic riches galore from the to-salivate-from Hammond B-3 organ with its big, fat warm bass lines to the warm, round yet precise electric guitar lines and the woody, cracklin’ rim shots snappy snares, punchy cymbals and cataclysmic kick drum explosions. Ross is going for impact not soundstaging or three guys playing in the distance in a big room, so expect a big drum kit spread across the stage and room-filling man-sized images.
So crank it up and enjoy this not-so-guilty, below the neck retro-pleasure fest.
All Music -
"Jack of Hearts isn't the first Anthony Wilson album to feature an organist extensively. For example, he worked with the Los Angeles-based organist Joe Bagg on his album Savivity. But the guitarist has worked with acoustic pianists more often than organists.
Jack of Hearts is unusual in that it finds Wilson not using a pianist at all. On this session, Wilson forms an intimate trio with Larry Goldings on organ and Jeff Hamilton or Jim Keltner on drums.
In the '90s and 2000s, Goldings was one of the leading proponents of a post-Jimmy Smith aesthetic on the Hammond B-3. Goldings has been greatly influenced by the late Larry Young, who started out as a Smith disciple but evolved into an innovative, distinctive post-bop/modal player and went down in history as "The John Coltrane of the Organ." Of course, Goldings is not a clone of Young; he is most certainly his own person, but he shares Young's love of post-bop.
So it isn't surprising that Goldings does a lot to shape the post-bop perspective that dominates Jack of Hearts. His presence is a major plus on material that was composed by Goldings and/or Wilson, and it is a major plus on memorable arrangements of Coleman Hawkins' "Hawkeyes" and two of Duke Ellington's lesser-known pieces ("Zweet Zursday" and "Carnegie Blues"). The fact that neither of those Ellington tunes is a standard speaks well of Wilson, who is smart enough to realize that one of the joys of the vast Ellington songbook is hearing all of the worthwhile Ellington compositions that didn't become standards.
Jack of Hearts is a consistently engaging addition to Wilson's catalog."
"Sometimes the postman brings cool surprises. I looked at the quilted envelope marked “Groove Note Records” and figured with a name like that, something good had to be inside and I was not disappointed. Though I’m not terribly familiar with Anthony Wilson, my ears perked up when I saw Jim Keltner listed as one of the musicians. A few seconds later a big warm sound filled the room and about 15 seconds later, everyone that was hanging out had a big smile on their face."
Jack of Hearts is straight ahead jazz, served classic trio style. Anthony Wilson is a great guitarist, who plays with a light touch and an exquisite sense of space on “Clark and Old Fender amps.” Trio partner Larry Goldrings brings an equal level of tastiness to the Hammond B-3, mixed in with Jim Keltner and Jeff Hamilton on drums to round out the group. The disc has a nice mixture of jazz standards from Ellington, Hawkins and Parks, with the remaining half of the disc Wilson originals.
This is one of those special albums that has been flawlessly recorded and mastered, but isn’t boring audiophile music. This is a record that you want to share with your friends and your favorite adult beverage with the lights down low. The record was recorded in the legendary Oceanway Studio in Hollywood to 2 track analog and thanks to the care taken in the DSD mastering, Jack of Hearts will put these three guys right in your listening room."