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After a few years backing late jazz multi-instrumentalist Joey DeFrancesco (and, through that relationship, Van Morrison), guitarist Dan Wilson made a big impression in 2021 with his debut solo album Vessels of Wood and Earth. Now the talented jazz picker (and, as the publicity info oddly emphasizes, hunter) is back with Things Eternal. As might be discerned from the title, faith, family, and the enduring relevance of art are on Wilson’s mind, though he’s not particularly heavy-handed in any of his statements. Instead he lets the grooves and melodies talk for him, whether he’s leaning into R&B with Phillip K. Jones II’s “Sticology” and Stevie Wonder’s “Smile Please,” or lighting out for the bop territories with Freddie Hubbard’s “Bird Like” and McCoy Tyner’s “For Tomorrow.” Wilson seems particularly comfortable with overt tunefests like Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” and Michael Brecker’s “Pilgrimage,” which not only highlight his dazzling improvisations, but also his close chemistry with electric pianist Glenn Zaleski. The guitarist sounds like he’s having the most fun, though, emulating (but not copying) the great Grant Green, with a swinging take on the decidedly unswinging Beatles tune “Eleanor Rigby.” Clearly one of the Things Eternal represented here is Wilson’s love of what he does.
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