Thursday, September 07, 2006

Texas Tenor Ed Wiley, Jr.'s In Rembrance reviewed

Texas tenor Ed Wiley left Houston a half century ago and still is laying things down in Philadelphia. Here is a review from the January-February Jazz & Blues Report

Saxophonist Ed Wiley, Jr.’s name might be familiar to fans of early post-war Texas rhythm and blues. Once a member of Gatemouth Brown’s Orchestra, he played on numerous Houston sessions. He had one record under his name, 'Cry, Cry Baby,' for Bob Shad’s Sittin’ In With label which made the top ten of the R&B charts. He can be heard on many sides on a number of reissued recordings, although current published discographical information has many errors. A colleague of mine has been interviewing Wiley including discussing his many recordings as well as stating ones on which he did not play on. Raised in Texas, he moved to Baltimore around the time his record became a hit. Out of Baltimore he worked with a variety of performers including saxophonists Johnny Sparrow and Avery Ross, pianist Clyde Patterson and guitarist Rufus Nance. His band also had a vocal group at the time that would become the Moonglows, and after a while settled in Philadelphia where he concentrated his musical career, playing with the likes of Amos Milburn, Cannonball Adderly, Dinah Washington, Al Hibbler and others. He raised his family while still playing, and his son, Ed Wiley III, set up the D.C. based Swing Records who issued an earlier album by Wiley, "Until Sunrise." His new recording, produced by father and son, is "In Rembrance." On this, Wiley is backed by a stellar cast that includes Shirley Scott on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, Bobby Durham and Mickey Roker on drums, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and Terell Stafford on trumpet. It is a session of mostly blues and sacred themes that showcase just how fine a saxophonist Ed Wiley is. Growing up in Houston, it is not surprising his playing is in the Texas tenor tradition. It opens with his acapella saxophone tour de force on the spiritual 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,' which showcases his fat tone and his warm, bluesy attack. Shirley Scott’s 'There’s Blues Everywhere' provides more space for him to showcase his big Texas Tenor sound, while the bop standard, Shaw Nuff, is played with complete authority. There’s a wonderful rendition of the classic James Weldon Johnson song 'Lift Ev’ry Voice,' along with the spiritual, 'Go Down Moses,' which effectively integrates vocals and background choir into the performance. Those who love the playing of Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, or Buddy Tate will be delighted by Wiley’s playing that is so full of soul and feeling. This is a wonderful recording, and when a true master resurfaces after years of general obscurity, one cannot help but be glad. Ed Wiley is a terrific player and In Rembrance is one terrific album. Swing Records distribution may be limited, so if you can’t find this you may want to contact the label directly for information on how to obtain it. The address is Swing Records, 1718 M St, NW, Suite 148, Washington DC 20036.

That address is likely outdated. This is available at and I am not sure what other mail order outlets, but check out his informative website,

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