Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band – Life Songs

Alternate Side Records - Street Date January 26th2024
Marshall Gilkes and the WDR Big Band – Live Songs

The trombonist Marshall Gilkes, in collaboration with the renowned WDR Big Band, offers us a rich musical journey inspired by life itself. “LifeSongs” represents a remarkable achievement for the two-time GRAMMY-nominated artist, internationally known for his virtuoso mastery of the trombone and widely recognized as one of the great big band composers of our time.
The WDR Big Band is undoubtedly one of the finest ensembles of its kind currently, marked, of course, by a European perspective in their interpretation of Marshall Gilkes’ work, giving this piece its distinctive color. This Big Band skillfully highlights solo instruments and transcends them.
It is becoming increasingly common for trombonists to present their creations. In this case, it’s not just the trombone but Marshall Gilkes’ orchestral composition and grand arrangements that shape the interest in this album. The track “Back In The Groove” is a vibrant example. Composing the music for his eighth album as a group leader, Gilkes noticed a similarity in his compositions. “I realized that many of the themes in these pieces are directly related to life and what is happening in the world today,” explains Gilkes. By channeling these moments, both in his personal sphere and in the world at large, he has created a stunning collection of pieces directly linked to these times.
Leaving behind the musical arena for a statement infused with gravity, a united front addresses a serious issue and delivers an emotionally charged masterpiece in the form of “My Unanswered Prayer.” “It’s about gun violence, particularly in the United States,” notes Gilkes. Tired of the usual response of thoughts and prayers accompanying every senseless shooting, he has penned a poignant response where brass instruments unfold with elegiac tones, a flute sings with solemnity and grace, he breathes his own heart into his trombone, and Test follows, penetrating the emotional core of the composition. The augmented harmonies prove haunting, which, as Gilkes mentions, corresponds to the frightening nature of the subject.
As you can see, Marshall Gilkes is a man of his time, creating engaged and, one might say, political music, but above all, music imbued with humanity. Creation is like that; there is always a political, poetic, or novelistic form that emerges when it is sincere. Marshall Gilkes is a perfect example, a composer, a highly respectable intellectual who infuses reflection but also joy into his work. This is evident in the enthusiastic reviews from Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move, placing this album on the “Essential” stack.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, January 9th 2024


To buy this album



1) Fresh Start 7:06
2) Back in the Groove 9:47
3) Cora’s Tune 9:37
4) My Unanswered Prayer 6:58
5) All the Pretty Horses 7:54
6) Middle Ground 10:23
7) Sin Filtro 9:26
8) This Nearly Was Mine 6:27
9) Sugar Rush 6:45
10) Longing for Home
11) Taconic Turns

Johan Hörlén – alto saxophone
Pascal Bartoszak – alto saxophone
Ben Fitzpatrick – tenor saxophone
Paul Heller – tenor saxophone
Jens Neufang – baritone saxophone
Ludwig Nuss – trombone
Raphael Klemm – trombone
Peter Hedrich – trombone
Mattis Cederberg – bass trombone
Andy Haderer – trumpet
Rob Bruynen – trumpet
Wim Both – trumpet
Ruud Breuls – trumpet
Hans Dekker, drums
Billy Test, piano
John Goldsby, bass

Arnd Richter – leader WDR Big Band
Christian Schmitt – sound engineer
Walter Platte – sound engineer
Thomas Kupilas – sound assistant
Nils Schröder – sound assistant
P. Both – sound assistant
Peter Krachten – director