Sounding Miles-like on the Langston Hughes spoken word piece, "Trumpet Player" that opens his debut album, Wilkes lets the listener know that this album won't just be fun and games. And thankfully so. There are enough albums out there that only gear toward the good times. "Sonata in the Key of Jack Daniels" reinforces the feel: a tough urban groove with Chelsea Baratz mirroring Wilkes' muted trumpet lines on tenor sax, and Robert "Baabe" Irving III laying down some sweet Fender Rhodes. Rhythm section Junius Paul on bass and Jeremy "Bean" Clemons on drums will have your feet moving on this quite satisfying tune and throughout the whole recording.
The title track, an addictive number, brings in long-time collaborators Kevin Nabors on tenor and Jabari Liu on alto, while Wilkes shows his skills at playing through effects. Baratz adds a nice piece "Remy's Revenge" that fits right in with the overall approach. She solos nicely, Irving sounds great on acoustic piano and Wilkes plays an incendiary solo here, while "Bean" is a primal force on the skins. The prelude to "Touch" slows things down nicely, while the song itself is a slower paced number showing Wilkes' romantic, melodic side, as well as Paul's bag of tricks on his bass.
Wilkes cowrote the next number with Paul "Return to Sender" and there is a loose jam feel. Some may note a bit of a hip-hop feel to some of these songs, but it's only an influence and never a distraction. Liu's fine alto work also deserves some mention. "Searchin,'" cowritten with Irving brings a bit of straight ahead cool. And "Ubiquitous Budafly" is an interesting hip-hop influenced number, with Dee Alexander adding some wordless vocals to this moody groove.
Lest you think Corey's gone too serious, "Funkier than a Mosquita's Tweeter" (with 'cuz' Alexander on lead vocals) is some good low down fun with Wilkes' joyous trumpet outbursts. And the exciting live version of "Drop It," recorded earlier this year at Close Up2 presents a bit of what the live Corey Wilkes experience (where guest artists, tap or African dancers and rappers can suddenly appear) is like. Fans of Wilkes, as well as newcomers will enjoy "Drop It" and we look forward to hearing much more from this talented up and coming superstar.