JazzTimes (p.67) - "As a composer, Wilkes uses rhythmic and temporal shifts, as much as melody, to bring texture and meaning to his lines."
Corey Wilkes & Abstrakt Pulse: Corey Wilkes (trumpet, flugelhorn); Kevin Nabors, Junius Paul, Scott Hesse, Isaiah Spencer.
Personnel: Junius Paul (bass instrument); Isaiah Spencer (drums, drum); Scott Hesse (guitar); Kevin Nabors (tenor saxophone).
Audio Mixer: Todd A. Carter.
Recording information: Bel Air Studio, Chicago, IL (03/17/2008-10/13/2008); Studio Chicago, Chicago, IL (03/17/2008-10/13/2008).
Staying true to his reputation as a post-Lester Bowie-type jazz trumpeter, Corey Wilkes and his band Abstrakt Pulse take cues from hard and post-bop, creative improvised music, and populist latter-period Art Ensemble of Chicago sounds. Alternating between tuneful free music and spontaneously composed snippets, the formidable Wilkes and his quintet keep the music moving forward with vitality and a keen sense of drama. This is an intriguingly put-together group with veteran drummer Isaiah Spencer borrowed from the Ernest Dawkins-led New Horizons Ensemble, along with newcomers Kevin Nabors on tenor sax, guitarist Scott Hesse, and bassist Junius Paul. The opening "First Mind" gives you a good idea of what is to come, as the band leaps off a post-bop platform in mixed 5/4 and 4/4 meters. A struttin' and shouted-out attitude reflective of Bowie identifies the very hip "Levitation," while the outstanding track "Visionary of an Abstrakt" is placed firmly in the straight-ahead hard bop jazz tradition. More of the humorous, sarcastic Bowie/AEC stance is brushed on thick in loose, soulful layers for "Villa Tiamo," while "Chasin' LeRoy" is your deep-rooted black-bottom Chicago blues swing, with Wilkes and Nabors chatting along in call-and-response mode. The whiny and moaning free "SICK JJ," the languid, light, and comforting implied waltz "Rain," and the 11-minute title track with probing bass and scorching horns all add plenty of contrast. The short made-up pieces act like bridges and nothing more, though they are somewhat compelling and definitely spirited. Wilkes seems like a chameleon, not bound to a single style, and is comfortable in either this context or with a more commercial approach. He's no doubt a brilliant player, young yet wise beyond his years, and while scratching the surface, displays plenty of grit, street smarts, and a serious fun attitude, marking him as one of the most promising trumpet players in the 2000s. This is a very interesting recording that deserves repeat listenings to savor and enjoy. ~ Michael G. Nastos