For the devoted fans of saxophonist Wilton Felder, who have often wondered where he disappeared to in recent years, let it be known he has returned with a remarkably new recording entitled Let’s Spend Some Time. Although Wilton is best remembered for his tenure with The Crusaders, he has been semi active as a solo recording artist and producer since the group’s demise in 1983.
Career high points include a 1980 release entitled Inherit The Wind, which achieved #4 on the "Billboard" jazz charts. Another album entitled Secrets reached number eight in 1985. In addition, he has always been in demand as a sideman with some of jazz’s most revered artists. Other aspects of his career has included stints with his former Crusader mate Wayne Henderson in a revamping of the Crusaders. Unfortunately, the band never quite reached the magnitude or status of the original group.
Because of his intermittent profile level, Wilton Felder may not be a household name to many smooth jazz aficionados. However, true jazz connoisseurs have come to know and love him as one of the most significant musicians of his generation. His newest release is a composite and a reflection of his unique skills as a saxophonist, while bringing to bear a voice that sounds like no other saxophonist in jazz.
Let’s Spend Some Time highlights the funk-oriented style that has made Wilton Felder a voice in contemporary jazz. His saxophone style has a cutting-edge iconic status among his peers, which in most instances often leads to a whole lot of toe tapping and rhythmic movement. On his more sensitive style, Felder can morph himself into an intuitively sensitive and sensuous musician. His special brand of sax weaves a web of artistic impressionism, which now breathes new life into his latest release.
This time out, the emphasis is most definitely all about the funk and circumstance of Wilton Felder the artist. Tracks such as "Smoke House," "Ooh Wop Doo Wop" and "Information" are testaments to the funk-inspired antics he possesses, much of which is a carryover from his Crusader days. To assist him on Let’s Spend Some Time, flugelhorn player George Shaw sets a groove standard that is measurably complimentary to the album’s success. The album’s title track "Let’s Spend Some Time" exhibits a voice having a smooth underlying melodic structure that allows Shaw and Felder to meld as a cohesive unit. The tune is highly responsive to radio play and has a distinctive feel attached.
After a long absence, Wilton Felder returns with 13 original tracks, some of which were co-produced by George Shaw. With an uninhibited posture, Wilton appears to pick up right where he left off, even though he has been missing in action for a number of years. Let’s Spend Some Time is one of contemporary jazz’s finest releases of 2006. It is a respite from the mundane and is an intuitively refreshing release.
The style of jazz Wilton Felder plays is not generic like most music currently heard over the airwaves, which may cause his latest release to go unnoticed by smooth jazz radio. But one track entitled "No One" could become a smooth jazz favorite if provided the window of opportunity. Overall, Let’s Spend Some Time reminds jazz connoisseurs of the good old days of soul jazz heard during the 1970s, when there was a degree of versatility in the music that was heard.As it stands today, smooth jazz radio leaves many fans of jazz in a vacuum, which seldom highlights an artist’s artistic contributions. Variety is not the spice of life in an era of mundane approaches to jazz, which provides much to be desired when musicians such as Wilton Felder are in attendance. The mandates of smooth jazz disavow any recognition of most artists with a true contemporary style. As such is the case, albums such as Let’s Spend Some Time almost always fall through the cracks of obscurity. By any stretch of improvisational characterization and spontaneity, Wilton Felder’s latest recording has all of the elements of a great addition to any jazz collection.