REVIEW of 'THE PAINT-PEELER' in allaboutjazz.com : Style: Modern Jazz Published: May 03, 2009 All About Jazz.com The Paint-Peeler Skip Wilkins Quintet Dreambox Media (2008) By Matthew Warnock The Paint-Peeler melds together elements of traditional, modern, and free jazz in a mélange of creative energy and expression. Wilkins' compositions and arrangements are full of emotion and intellectual fervor, while his improvisations are first-rate and are constantly being enhanced by the rest of the ensemble. The quintet, consisting of Paul Kendall on saxes, Tom Kozic on guitar, Tony Marino on bass, and Gary Rissmiller on drums, moves between '60s avant-garde free-improvisation and '50s style swing in a manner that is both seamless and captivating. Drawing upon influences such as Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, Wilkins' improvisations constantly push the band to new levels of creativity. Whether it's the barn-burning title track or the Evans-influenced slow waltz, 'December (As I Would Have It),' there is never a moment where Wilkins sounds uncomfortable or at less than his best. Aside from his soloing, Wilkins is also an exemplary accompanist. His ability to move between a modern-acoustic feel ('Standing in the Wind') and an electric-fusion feel à la Joe Zawinul ('Trappers in the Family') helps to push the other band members to new levels of creativity in their solos. Not to be outdone, the other members of the quintet are at the top of their game on every tune. Rissmiller's open drum solo on the opening track, 'The Paint-Peeler,' contains a high-level of energy and musicality that is indicative of his playing on the rest of the album. As well, Kendall's soprano solo on 'Bring the Sun' is full of hard-swinging melodic lines and burning bebop vocabulary, both of which make it one of the highlights of the album. Guitarist Kozic's versatility comes through on many of his improvised solos and melody sections. His use of distortion and other guitar effects never sounds forced or out of place, as is sometimes the case, and his ability to build a solo helps provide some of the albums most climactic moments. The Paint-Peeler is a highly energetic recording that brings together many different genres of jazz-from bop to funk to free to modern-into a cohesive work that is both expressive and entertaining. Aside from the diversity during the improvised sections, the wide range of compositions helps keep the album moving forward, while giving it a sense of unity at the same time. Though this is not a traditional jazz quintet CD, it is both intellectually stimulating and accessible, while still remaining true to the artists' intent. Skip Wilkins Quintet at All About Jazz. Visit Skip Wilkins Quintet on the web. Track listing: The Paint-Peeler; Who's Laughing? (A Father's Lament); Swiftly; December (As I Would Have It); Trappers in the Family; Standing in the Wind (For Daniel); Fabulous; Glow (For Fred Hersch); Bring the Sun (For Liz Drake). Personnel: Skip Wilkins: piano, keyboards; Paul Kendall: tenor, soprano, baritone saxophones; Tom Kozic: guitars; Tony Marino: bass; Gary Rissmiller: drums. ----------- REVIEW of 'THE PAINT-PEELER' in THE MORNING CALL (Allentown, PA) SKIP WILKINS QUINTET The Paint-Peeler (Dreambox Media) For his third quintet recording, Macungie-based pianist Skip Wilkins draws inspiration from immediate surroundings. A professor at Lafayette College, Wilkins wrote all the pieces, thinking specifically of his long-standing musicians, saxophonist Paul Kendall, bassist Tony Marino, guitarist Tom Kozic and, especially, drummer Gary Rissmiller, who toured the Czech Republic this summer with Wilkins. Most of the inspirational sources are close to home, too. A gig at a place Wilkins diplomatically refers to only as a 'well-known jazz club,' which paired the pianist with a talent-challenged vocalist inspired the disc's opening, post-bop title piece, jazz slang for a (usually) bad singer. The ballad, 'Who's Laughing (A Father's Lament)' grew from Wilkins' experience seeing his daughter Emily leave for college. The Monkish 'Standing in The Wind,' is a dedicated to his son, Daniel, a saxophonist. There were also nods to Wilkins' chiropractor Rob Swift ('Swiftly,') and a colleague and collaborator Liz Drake, the former Emmaus High School principal, who inspired the album's closer, 'Bring The Sun.' This is quality, top-shelf stuff, all recorded on the stage of Lafayette's Williams Center for the Arts, where the quintet performs in a CD-release celebration Thursday. ------ What the critics said about recent releases on Dreambox Media by Skip Wilkins: Skip Wilkins SOLO: This one is very good. O's Place Jazz Newsletter Wilkins [is] first-rate... His lyrical voice sounds convincingly personal... Cadence Magazine Volume II: West Coast cool but with updated, East Coast suavity. Philadelphia Inquirer Volume I: Pianist Skip Wilkins goes from soulful, gut-bucket mode to rich ballads to angular modern jazz... Philadelphia Inquirer Wilkins has penned some very fine tunes... All About Jazz-New York Wilkins is an inventive, subtle pianist. Allentown Morning Call Wilkins' music has an edge; he's searching for, and more often than not finding, his own voice, which is really what jazz is all about... Allentown Morning Call The Skip Wilkins Quintet is back with The Paint-Peeler. Long established as a top-shelf pianist and composer, and with three recent Dreambox Media releases to his credit, Wilkins has released an edgy new set of original pieces. Written during a thirteen-month period in 2006 and 2007, Wilkins gradually added these new pieces to the quintet's performance repertoire before recording them in June 2007. Wilkins wrote his new pieces expressly for his working band, the Skip Wilkins Quintet. Gary Rissmiller establishes the intensity level on the title-track, the burning opener, The Paint-Peeler, and increases it through the finale with some great brush work on the fast samba, Bring the Sun. Throughout the CD, the rhythm section trio of Wilkins, Rissmiller and bassist Tony Marino continues their rumbling ways, established during a dozen years of sharing bandstands together. They give The Paint-Peeler the feel of a live recording. Paul Kendall delivers his brooding tenor on waltzes December and Glow, and lots of punch on baritone and soprano saxophones elsewhere. Tom Kozic is, well, Tom Kozic -- at his lyrical best. Wilkins is riding high at the moment. His three recent Dreambox Media releases -- Volume I (DMJ-1101), Volume II (DMJ-1104) and Skip Wilkins Solo-Live at Lafayette (DMJ-1109) -- have received critical attention. Additionally Wilkins is touring in Europe regularly, where he and Rissmiller perform often with two Czech musicians, tenor saxophonist Rost'a Fras and bassist Josef Feco. It all seems to be part of the plan. Thirteen years ago, Wilkins returned to the east coast in search of new music and new opportunities. He had already played with countless jazz luminaries in his native Boston and during eight years living in the West, among them, saxophonists Plas Johnson and John LaPorta, vocalists Mark Murphy and Darmon Meader, trumpeter Conte Candoli, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummers Bob Moses, Joe Hunt, and Peter Erskine. More would follow after his return to the east coast, including saxophonists David Liebman, David Sánchez, Bobby Watson and Stanley Turrentine, trumpeter Clark Terry and drummer T.S. Monk. Among the first musicians with whom Wilkins played after moving to Pennsylvania were Tony Marino and Gary Rissmiller, his rhythm section mates in the Skip Wilkins Quintet. Skip shared some of his earlier compositions with Marino and Rissmiller, and together with flutist Jill Allen, they performed locally and on tour. Wilkins and Allen subsequently released Petty Theft in 2001, after an earlier recording, Two Much Fun! Many of the pieces for which Wilkins was recognized in his 2001 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts jazz composition fellowship appeared on the recordings that he co-led with Allen. With growing access to great regional musicians, Skip had a lot of motivation to write and eventually record new music. Skip wrote a number of pieces for a group featuring guitarist Tom Kozic. All veteran jazz musicians by the time Skip met them, Kozic, Marino and Rissmiller had been playing together since they were teenagers. Their hookup was long and deep. Skip tapped into the relationship of these Pennsylvania natives with new compositions. The quartet, then comprised of Wilkins, Kozic, Marino and Rissmiller, played some memorable gigs together six years ago. Meanwhile, Skip searched for the right opportunity to record the group. Skip first played with New York saxophonist Paul Kendall when Paul joined the Tony Gairo-Gary Rissmiller Jazz Orchestra to hold the baritone sax chair. Performing weekly, and eventually appearing together on the Orchestra's Seabreeze Jazz release Treacherous, their musical friendship flourished. Soon after, Skip heard Paul on tenor saxophone and knew that he had the last piece of the puzzle in place for a planned new recording of his music. Like Skip, Paul was a transplant to Pennsylvania. A pair of interlopers was about to rumble with the locals. After performing together constantly in 2005, the Skip Wilkins Quintet was ready to record in June of that year. Volume I (released in 2006) and the follow-up CD Volume II (2007) were recorded together in three sessions. And now The Paint-Peeler establishes this group as much more than an experiment. Living in Eastern Pennsylvania, halfway between two superlative jazz communities -those in Philadelphia and in the Poconos, and within easy reach of another one in New York City - Wilkins is regularly fortunate enough to share the bandstand with some amazing players. Paul Kendall, Tom Kozic, Tony Marino and Gary Rissmiller are surely at the top of the list. The Quintet's continuing association with Philadelphia jazz record label Dreambox Media is mutually beneficial. It's a natural fit for five Pennsylvanians to release their music through a great Philadelphia institution.
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