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The Spike Wilner Trio (US)
tiltle: Aliens and Wizards
music: Jazz
release date: april 23, 2021
label: Cellar Music Group
promotion: Lydia Liebman Promotions
info artist:
Spike Wilner

© Rootsville 2021

Standvastige pianist, bandleider en clubmanager Spike Wilner heeft een lange tijd genoten in de New York City en wereldwijde jazzscènes, waarbij hij optrad met onder meer The Artie Shaw Big Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Maynard Furgeson en Lennie Cuje, terwijl ze zeer actief bleef als een bandleider terwijl hij de iconische NYC Jazz-heiligdommen Smalls en Mezzrow beheerde. Wilner wordt hier bijgestaan door twee langdurige medewerkers, bassist Tyler Mitchell (Art Taylor, Jackie McLean, Barry Harris) en drummer Anthony Pinciotti (James Moody, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Abercrombie).

In March 2020, tragedy struck and Smalls and Mezzrow were closed to the public. Wilner took the opportunity to stay in Pennsylvania for several months with family and, like many musicians during this time, focused on practicing and composition. Informed by great change and isolation,  Aliens & Wizards was born. 

Aliens & Wizards begins with the bright-tempoed “Righty – O!”, Wilner’s piano-centric rendition of a piece by the late drummer and friend of Wilner, Johnny Ellis. Right out of the gate, Wilner demonstrates his seamless integration of ragtime, bop and contemporary stylings.  Also on full display is the interplay of a trio with an unmistakably rich history of collaboration. While these three players have worked together in various incarnations since they were quite young, this iteration of the Spike Wilner Trio was first assembled in 2012/2013 and has been a working band ever since, touring Europe and performing regularly throughout New York City.

Non Troppo” and “Adagio” are both Wilner pieces inspired by the artist’s study of Bach and Beethoven. “Non Troppo” specifically is inspired by the movement of a Beethoven sonata, and the title refers to the musical tempo marking “allegro ma non troppo” meaning “at a brisk tempo, but not too much!”. Fittingly on this third-stream inspired piece, Wilner’s melodic refrains flow from his fingers with ease and a beautiful simplicity, each statement answering the last. Similarly, “Adagio” refers to a slow tempo marking. The intro is bowed beautifully by Tyler Mitchell, setting the tone for a moody and wistful piece with a supple melody wrife with harmonic intrigue. “Adagio” is a heartfelt tribute to Wilner’s wife and daughter.

Lush interpretations of standards mark the center of this album, with Wilner’s take on “Blue Gardenia” and “Stella by Starlight”. “Blue Gardenia”, written by Lester Lee and Bob Russell and later popularized by Dinah Washington, features a deeply soulful improvisation by Wilner, showcasing the band’s dynamic sensibilities. “Stella by Starlight” features fiery improvisations from both Wilner and bassist Tyler Mitchell. The album’s title track “Aliens & Wizards” is a free improvisation, demonstrating the enormous range and cohesion of the ensemble.


01 Righthy O
02 Non Troppo
03 Adagio
04 Mindset
05 Blue Gardenia
06 Stella By Starlight
07 Aliens & Wizards
08 Prayer For Peace
09 Trick Baby