Published November 27, 2019 in Musical Memoirs, by Dee Dee McNeil, Los Angeles
View review at www.musicalmemoirs.wordpress.com

This is a delightful album of somewhat obscure compositions by some of the most iconic American composers in the business of music. Skip and Dan Wilkins use their excellent talents to introduce us to songs like, “Spring Isn’t Spring Anymore” by Matt Dennis, “Remind Me” by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields and “Ever Again” by Alec Wilder and Johnny Mercer, among others. Dan Wilkins has a smooth, intoxicating sound on tenor saxophone. Skip Wilkins is an amazingly competent and creative pianist. Together, with Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin at the drum set, this is a thoroughly entertaining quartet. “Someday” is a love letter to the historic Deer Head Inn of Pennsylvania. It’s one of the oldest, continuously running jazz clubs in the country. Open since the 1940’s, it’s situated in the Pocono Mountains, a historic area of Pennsylvania called Delaware Water Gap. Many legendary jazz artists have performed there and in 1992, Keith Jarrett recorded a ‘live’ album on the premises and his album title reflected that home of jazz. Skip & Dan Wilkins have done the same, displaying a photograph of the legendary jazz hotel on the cover of this current CD.

Pianist, Skip Wilkins is quite familiar with this respected jazz establishment. He has resided in an upstairs apartment, above what used to be the carriage house, since 2012. Surprisingly, I read in the liner notes that the drummer on this project, Bill Goodwin, is also a fellow resident at Deer Head Inn. Perhaps this musical residency is something to be thankful for, since it brought these talented gentlemen closely together for this project.

On the first tune, “We’ll Meet Again” father and son team, Skip and Dan Wilkins, offer us a lovely rendition of the Parker & Charles composition, “We’ll Meet Again.” The chord changes sound very much like “This is the End of a Beautiful Friendship” and I find myself wondering which tune came first? Like this quartet, I too have a passion for the American Songbook. The Skip & Dan Wilkins quartet brings each composition alive with skill, dexterity and emotional deliveries. Longtime collaborator, Tony Marino, is strong and steady on his upright bass. You can tell that this group of musicians are quite familiar with each other and their comfort-level and technical abilities merge to create a beautiful album of historic relevance. They offer an hour of exceptional jazz music. In fact, I found myself playing this album again, just for the pure enjoyment of it.

41st Annual Jazz Station Awards / The Best Jazz of 2019,
published January 1, 2020 in Jazz Station, by Arnaldo DeSouteiro

Recognition for Someday – Skip Wilkins & Dan Wilkins Quartet (Deer Head Records)

Best Instrumental Group:
3. Skip & Dan Wilkins Quartet

Best Drums:
3. Bill Goodwin

Best Tenor Sax:
5. Dan Wilkins

Best Engineer
1. Paul Wickliffe


Someday w/ Skip Wilkins & Dan Wilkins Quartet – Deer Head Records - is on the list of


Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month
Skip & Dan Wilkins Quartet: "Someday" (Dear Head Records 010) 2019
Rating: *****

Published October 8, 2019 in Jazz Station, by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Los Angeles
View review at https://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com

"Someday" features father-and-son duo Skip & Dan Wilkins alongside Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. Through elegant performances of oft-overlooked compositions from the Great American Songbook, this superb quartet offers its love letter to the historic Deer Head Inn of Pennsylvania, the oldest continuously running jazz club in the country. The album was engineered in December 2017 by Paul Wickliffe.

A stunning interplay of the ensemble and musical selections curated by Skip & Dan celebrate the classic sound of the saxophone quartets of years past. Warm, dulcet melodies from Dan’s tenor adorn the harmonic invention emanating from Skip’s keys. Along with Skip and Dan is the stellar rhythm section of bassist Tony Marino and drummer Bill Goodwin, famous for his long time association with Phil Woods.

The serenity offered by the quartet throughout "Someday" brings the listener into the spirit of the historic Deer Head Inn. Skip Wilkins is no stranger to this prized Poconos institution, in fact, since 2012 the pianist has lived in the upstairs apartment in the Deer Head Inn’s original carriage house, and prior to that, the Inn served as a getaway for Wilkins and his family. Both of his children, including Dan, enjoyed debut performances at the club.

Drummer Bill Goodwin -- whom I love since 1980 when I first attended one of his concerts with Phil Woods at the São Paulo/Montreux Jazz Festival -- is a fellow resident at Deer Head Inn, and Skip seized this moment to record with his neighbor, along with his son Dan on tenor saxophone as well as long-time collaborator, bassist Tony Marino. A master in subtleties and dynamics, like the late Billy Higgins, Goodwin also founded and directed a cult label, Omnisound, which released some outstanding albums in the 80s.

"Someday" begins with an effortless, beautiful rendition of Ross Parker & Hughie Charles’ “We’ll Meet Again,” a bright-tempoed jubilant swing tune. Father and son team Skip and Dan Wilkins perfectly complement each other’s sound. Skip says “It is a special delight to work on music with my son Dan. You could say that we both have old souls. We both love the canon – the Great American Songbook. We often exchange favorite old songs as well as favorite versions. I’ve written music for Dan that we’ve recorded on previous CD releases, keeping an ear out for what he does so well in writing those pieces. But this recording proceeded differently, because Dan and I selected the material together. In my career I have been fortunate to play and record with many great saxophonists both in the U.S. and in Europe, even including two NEA Jazz Masters. But for some music, you just have to grow your own saxophonist.”

Demonstrating the scope of the ensemble, the quartet offers a laid-back latin groove on Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’ “Remind Me” which hearkens back to Page One era Joe Henderson. Skip demonstrates his facility on the keys with a masterful improvisation on Kern’s classic changes. Another sultry selection from this release is “If Somebody Comes Ever Again” by Alec Wilder and Johnny Mercer. This tender ballad in a waltz feel features some of the more dynamic interplay on this album – Skip’s piano comping for bassist Tony Marino’s solo is a study in counterpoint, and drummer Bill Goodwin’s support and anticipation throughout Skip’s solo is a masterclass in rhythmic ingenuity.

Dan shines on the Tucker Freeman/Sunny Skylar composition “You’ll Always Be the One I Love” with a marvelous melodic exploration that reminds one of the tone and time-feel of Dexter Gordon, fitting for the melancholy musings of the piece. The album ends with the group’s interpretation of Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing.” The track features burning solos from the father and son duo, ending "Someday" on a high. With the final notes of this driving swing tune, one can’t help but be transported back to the feeling of a late Saturday night in the Poconos at the Deer Head Inn, the room abuzz with the afterglow of an amazing set of live music, the shouting of the bartender’s ‘last call’ and the applause of a delighted audience.

Skip Wilkins was born in Massachusetts and raised in a musical family. He became interested in jazz at an early age and found his way to the stage in kindergarten. He learned to love singing, played drums for years, but then focused on piano, which became his main instrument by his late teens. As he was coming up in Boston, he worked with drummers Joe Hunt and Bob Moses and with saxophonists Jimmy Mosher and John LaPorta.

For many years, Skip has maintained an active international career as a pianist, composer, vocalist, workshop presenter, jazz choral director and college professor. He has fourteen CD releases, including multiple international recordings, and has enjoyed performances with a host of international luminaries throughout his career. He performed often with Phil Woods, and is a featured soloist on Phil’s final big band release "New Celebration."

Wherever he has lived, he has performed with and collaborated with top stars whenever they came to town – Phil Woods, David Liebman, Plas Johnson, Mark Murphy, Clark Terry, David Sánchez, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Watson, Bob Dorough, Conte Candoli, Peter Erskine and Zuzana Lapčíková, among so many others.

Skip performs throughout Europe in a variety of ensembles, with regular tours to the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, Greece and France. He maintains a residence in Prague, Czech Republic, and another at Deer Head Inn. He is associate professor of Music at Lafayette College, where he teaches courses in music theory and jazz improvisation, and directs the Jazz Ensemble.

Beginning in 2011, the pianist took a sabbatical from teaching to begin a fifteen-month residency in the Czech Republic, composing and recording music for his album "Czech Dreams," later released in 2013. He took another sabbatical there in 2016, composing and recording material for his 2018 release "Czech Wishes."

Saxophonist and composer Dan Wilkins is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music’s prestigious jazz program and has studied with some of the foremost educators in jazz including NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman, Caris Visentin-Liebman, Phil Markowitz, Steve Wilson, Rich Perry and Garry Dial. He has performed throughout the United States as well as internationally. Wilkins musical voyage began early on, when his father first introduced him to the jazz tradition and legacy. Wilkins credits the luscious ballads of Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon for turning him on to the tenor saxophone. Dan released his own debut album ‘Jnana Vijnana (Awake)’ in 2015 after first recording with his father Skip for the 2012 Steeplechase Lookout CD release ‘Father & Son’. Now, they start a new chapter on their careers.

Published November 13, 2019 in Midwest Record
View review at www.midwestrecord.com

SKIP & DAN WILKINS QUARTET/Someday: Out there in Delaware Water Gap country, there exists jazz that doesn't recognize clocks or other boundaries that inhibit the vibe and flow. This delightfully old school set full of old school tunes was recorded by cats that live in the hotel attached to venue, the oldest continuously running jazz venue in the country. While it's delightfully old school, there's no dust on it as these four pals show just how adept they are at hitting all the right notes at all the right times. One of the tastiest workouts you are going to find, you don't even have to be sipping something to enjoy it to the max.
(Deer Head 10)

Published by Joe Lang in the January-February 2020 issue of Jersey Jazz

There is a wealth of jazz talent who make their home base in the area of the Poconos. Someday (Dear head Records – 010) features the SKIP & DAN WILKINS QUARTET with Skip Wilkins on piano, Dan Wilkins on tenor sax, Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. These cats are frequently seen in the groups that perform at the Deer Head Inn; in fact Skip Wilkins and Bill Goodwin live at the Deer Head Inn. It is not surprising that the group on this recording is a nicely cohesive unit. Dan Wilkins is a tenor player with an old school sound and approach. His father, Skip Wilkins, is a joy to hear, tasteful and swinging. Marino and Goodwin lay down a perfect rhythmic bed. The program is an interesting one. None of the tunes is over-done. “Spring Isn’t Spring Anymore,” a gem from Matt Dennis, and another wonderful song by Alec Wilder and Johnny Mercer, “If Someday Ever Comes Again,” are rarely heard. These gentlemen have chosen their material wisely, and play it with exquisite taste. (www.deerheadinn.com)

Published January 15, 2020 in The Aquarian Weekly, by Mike Greenblatt
View review at www.theaquarian.com

A Night At The Deer Head Inn

Someday (Deer Head Records), by father-son team Skip and Dan Wilkins, is a love letter of sorts to the hallowed environs of Pennsylvania’s legendary Deer Head Inn. Built in the eighteen- forties, it’s been operating as a jazz club since the nineteen-fifties. That makes it the oldest continuously running jazz club in America. Situated within the Appalachian Trail, surrounded by the picturesque Delaware Water Gap bordering New Jersey, the acoustics are superb, the drinks are strong, the food is delicious, there’s rooms-for- rent upstairs, yet the essence of this great venue is the feel. People go there to listen. The overall ambiance is that of studious jazz concentration like at the Village Vanguard or The Blue Note. And similar to those Manhattan venues, the history in this space is palpable. You can actually sense those who have performed in the past: Keith Jarrett, Paul Motian, Phil Woods, Al Cohn, Dave Liebman, Bob Dorough, Bucky Pizzarelli, and more than a few generations of jazzers who would all congregate here after their gigs elsewhere. Pianist John Coates, Jr., for instance, played here regularly for 50 years.

On Someday, the pianist father and the tenor sax son (with bassist Tony Marino and longtime Phil Woods drummer Bill Goodwin) make beautiful music together on compositions by Cole Porter (“Dream Dancing”) and the Gershwins (“Of Thee I Sing”), as well as six others. It’s a timeless swing-fest. Skip, for the last eight years, has lived upstairs (drummer Goodwin lives here too).

On the night we went, exquisite guitarist Bill Washer led his trio with poppin’ bassist Louis Pettinelli and right-on-time drummer Goodwin (whose fills were adventurous, yet, he came back to the beat every single time). Then Skip tickled the ivories behind singer Nancy Reed, whose mellifluous warbling added a distinct Ella/Sarah sense of majesty to the evening. All during the set, musicians could be seen lugging their instruments inside for the Thursday Night Jam Session (with no cover charge). The Poconos were never more alive than on this night! The musicianship on display was, in a word, sterling. I can’t wait to go back.

Published November 16, 2019 in Making a Scene, by Jim Hynes
View review at www.makingascene.org

Just as this recording form the Skip and Dan Wilkins Quartet is essentially an homage to the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA, my review is a kind of homage that same venue, relatively local for this writer. Yes, it’s a rather unlikely spot to find a jazz club but the Deer Head Inn is the oldest continuously running jazz club in the country, marked by its three stories, with two balconies and the subhead sign that reads, “Food -Jazz- Lodging.”

The sound of this saxophone quartet, like the ambience of the Inn, is warm and sweet as they dig into mostly overlooked standards from The Great American Songbook. Pianist Skip Wilkins has lived in the upstairs apartment in the Deer Head Inn’s original carriage house since 2012 (when not spending the other six months of the year in his residence in Prague) and prior to that, the Inn served as a getaway for him and his family. The resident pianist chose drummer Bill Goodwin, a fellow resident along with his son, Dan, on tenor saxophone as well as long-time collaborator, bassist Tony Marino. Despite the close relationship among the players, this is the first time they have recorded as a unit.

Skip writes extensively in the liners about his experiences at the Inn and what it means to him and also about the genesis of this recording. “It is a special delight to work on music with my son Dan. You could say that we both have old souls. We both love the canon – the Great American Songbook. We often exchange favorite old songs as well as favorite versions. I’ve written music for Dan that we’ve recorded on previous CD releases, keeping an ear for what he does so well in writing those pieces. But, this recording proceeded differently, because Dan and I selected the music together. In my career I have been fortunate to play and record with many great saxophonists both in the U.S. and in Europe, even including two NEA Jazz Masters [Dave Liebman comes to mind]. But for some music, you just have to grow your own saxophonist.”

They played this repertoire live at the Deer Head the day before recording it in the studio with engineer Paul Wickliffe. NEA Jazz Master, the late Bob Dorough attended the Deer Head show and the recording is dedicated to him. They begin with a beautiful rendering of Parker & Charles” “We’ll Meet Again,” one of the brighter tempos in the set. Dan Wilkins shines on the melancholy Freeman/Skylar “You’ll Always Be the One I Love,” channeling the tone and feel of Dexter Gordon. He blows beautifully on the Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson’s ballad “It Never Was You” as well. The quartet swings with the Gershwins’ “Of Thee I Sing” and they conclude in rousing style with Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing,” with exciting solos from the father and son team.

These tunes are ideal for a romantic or simply relaxing dinner by the fire. Close your eyes and you can practically hear the wood crackle and the faint tinkling sounds of glasses toasting as you listen. This is authentic, tried and true jazz – the kind you can expect to hear on a visit to the historic Deer Head Inn. Put it on your bucket list.

Published December, 2019 in La Habitación del Jazz
View review at www.lahabitaciondeljazz.blogspot.com

1. We'll Meet Again 2. Spring Isn't Spring Anymore 3. Remind Me
4. If Someday Comes Ever Again 5. If Never Was You 6. Of Thee I Sing 7. You'll Always Be the One I Love 8. Dream Dancing

Skip Wilkins - Piano
Dan Wilkins – Saxo tenor
Tony Marino - Contrabajo
Bill Goodwin – Batería

Grabado, mezclado y masterizado en Charlestown Road Studio, (Hampton,UN) el 18 de diciembre de 2017
Publicado el 11 de octubre de 2019
Sello: Deer Head Records

Skip Wilkins nació en Massachusetts en el seno de una familia aficionada a la música. Desde muy joven aprendió canto, batería, instrumento que tocaría durante varios años y finalmente piano.

Mantiene una activa carrera como pianista, compositor, vocalista, director de talleres y profesor universitario. Ha tocado con grandes músicos, como Phil Woods, David Liebman, Mark Murphy, Clark Terry, David Sánchez, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Watson, Conte Candoli, Peter Erskine entre tantos otros.

Desde siempre le interesó el Gran Cancionero Americano de compositores como Richard Rodgers, Gershwin y muchos otros principalmente de la primera mitad del siglo XX.

Desde 2007, gira por Europa, destacando la República Checa, donde mantiene residencia en Praga.

Este Someday es su disco 14 y le acompaña su hijo Dan al saxo tenor. También está Tony Mariano al contrabajo, miembro de los grupos de David Liebman y el baterista Bill Goodwin, durante cuarenta años miembro del Cuarteto y Quinteto Phil Woods y que curiosamente vive en un apartamento encima del club Deer Head Inn, en Pennsylvania, donde también reside Skip, momento que aprovechó este último para grabar junto a él.

El disco lo integran siete estándares cuidadosamente elegidos, algunos no interpretados habitualmente.

A través de este trabajo, rinden homenaje al histórico Deer Head Inn de Pensilvania, el club de jazz en funcionamiento más antiguo de los EEUU, abierto desde la década de los 40, situado en las montañas Pocono donde muchos artistas legendarios del jazz han actuado allí y en donde Keith Jarrett grabó en 1992 un álbum "en vivo" con el título del club.

El sonido del grupo recuerda, intencionadamente, a tiempos pretéritos aportando un gran relax al oyente.

El cuarteto nos hace sentir que estamos en un club, por qué no, en el club Deer Head Inn, tomando una bebida y disfrutando de la interpretación y de las habilidades técnicas de estos cuatro músicos.

Un álbum hermoso.

La Habitación del Jazz

Vectordisc distribuidor


Czech Wishes

Published July 23, 2019 in All About Jazz by Troy Dostert
View review at www.allaboutjazz.com

Although he's based in Eastern Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Lafayette College, pianist Skip Wilkins spends as much time as he can in the Czech Republic, the source of inspiration for his last two releases. Czech Dreams (New Port Line, 2013) and Czech Wishes, his current project, are not so much about crafting an Eastern European-tinged music, as Wilkins' songwriting stays comfortably within the world of mainstream jazz. He does have an impressive trio of Czech musicians with him on this release, and it is clear that the people and culture of the Czech Republic have made quite an impression on Wilkins, who was fortunate to get a sabbatical from his teaching duties to compose the nine charts that make up this strong outing.

Wilkins has assembled a fine quartet with trumpeter-flugelhornist Miroslav Hloucal, bassist Tomáš Baroš and drummer Marek Urbánek. As an added bonus, his son Daniel, a promising tenor saxophonist, is also part of the mix; previously he teamed up with his dad on Father and Son (SteepleChase, 2012). It is obvious from the medium-tempo, hard bop-themed opener, "Teacher," that Daniel's rich tenor is an effective counterpart to Hloucal's flugelhorn in comprising the band's two-horn threat. Skip's scampering solo provides a glimpse of his convincing prowess on the keys before turning things over to Hloucal, no slouch himself when it comes to digging-in on an energized solo. Daniel gets his own showcase on another mid-tempo groover, "Munchkins of Karlovy Vary," where he displays patience and rhythmic command on a feisty solo which brings to mind a young Joe Henderson.

A couple of poignant ballads balance the program; "On the Train" brings out the duskier side of Daniel's tenor, while the wistful "Don't Forget Me" is especially affecting, performed as a duet by father and son in tribute to Skip's parents. But it's the up-tempo burners that allow the group to shine most brightly, as on the invigorating "The Box-Checkers," where the rhythm tandem of Baroš and Urbánek finds the pocket and stays there, empowering fervid solos from Hloucal, and Wilkins father and son. Urbánek takes a few bars at the end of the track for his own rhythmic fusillade, and makes the most of it. The album's closer, "Wise One," is a punchy, hard-swinging piece with stellar comping from Skip Wilkins and the rhythm section underneath Hloucal's tenacious trumpet, before Wilkins stretches out on his last solo of the album. It's a fine finish to a well-conceived album, with heartfelt devotion to friends and family, far and wide, who have shaped Wilkins so profoundly.

Published April 27, 2019 in Musical Memoirs, by Dee Dee McNeil, Los Angeles
View review at www.musicalmemoirs.wordpress.cz

Daniel Wilkins has a sweet, husky sound on his tenor saxophone as he opens this CD with a tune titled, “Teacher.”. Daniel and Skip Wilkins have been collaborating musically since 2012, when they released a Cd titled, “Father and Son. Skip is the father and his son, Daniel, is his featured saxophonist on this project. It was developed after Skip Wilkins travelled, on tour, to the Czech Republic and fell in love with their music, art and culture. Consequently, these original compositions mirror a Prague/ Pennsylvania connection. Beginning with his “Teacher” composition. I think, perhaps it reflects the sabbatical he took from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania to write a collection of original works. However,the liner notes tell me it was written for his Czech language teacher.

For a decade, Skip Wilkins had an opportunity to teach and perform throughout Europe. But it was the Czech Republic that stuck an arrow into the heart of his music. Below, view one of his ‘live’ performances at AghaRTA Jazz Club in Prague.

Wilkins has incorporated young Czech musicians into this project. In 2016, the logistical planning for “Czech Wishes” began. That’s when Skip Wilkins began composing for this CD. It was January of that year, and he was touring. He knew what Czech musicians he was going to use, and they are the ones listed above, including Miroslav Hloucal, a virtuoso trumpeter. I enjoyed his solo on the first cut.

Skip Wilkins writes very melodically and plays piano with passionate exuberance. His arrangements leave plenty of room for these musicians to showcase their individual talents. Daniel Wilkins brings saxophone fire and energy to the group. Marek Urbanek shows his drum skills, especially obvious on “Munchkins of Karlovy Vary” where the ensemble swings hard and up-tempo. Urbanek takes advantage of the appropriate breaks in the arrangement, showing awesome prowess on his trap drums. On “The Box-Checkers” you can hear the grit and gusto in Tomas “Kastan” Baros’ bass playing. He’s walking that double bass at a swift pace, chasing Skip Wilkins’ bright piano licks and flying fingers.

This is an album full of bright, harmonic horn lines, fresh compositions and inspiring arrangements. All the musicians are skillful and their repertoire covers hard bop, blues, Ballads, and a blend of American and Czech jazz that captivates and entertains.

Published September 2019 in Jazz History Online, by Thomas Cunniffe
View review at jazzhistoryonline.com/focus-on-compositions/

Pianist Skip Wilkins splits his time between Pennsylvania and Prague, performing and teaching jazz in both locations. His new album, “Czech Wishes” features a quintet drawn of players from the US and the Czech Republic. Wilkins’ son Daniel plays tenor sax on the front line alongside trumpeter Miroslav Hloucal, while Skip leads the rhythm section with bassist Tomáš “Kaštan” Baroš and drummer Marek Urbánek. Skip composed all nine of the pieces, and each is dedicated to a person or event in his recent life. The opening work, “Teacher”, is dedicated to his Czech language teacher, and its slow introduction and coda frame a melody which is presented in medium tempo in both legato and agitated forms. “Munchkins of Karlovy Vary” paints a portrait of three very active children whom Skip has seen grown up. These works follow a stylistic progression from 1960s Blue Note originals to contemporary jazz, and like those works, Wilkins and his fellow musicians have the freedom to expand the harmonic boundaries through their improvisations. Basically, the available chord tones to the improvisers are not necessarily present within the tunes as we hear them, giving the musicians an opportunity to expand our understanding of the piece’s infrastructure. On the waltz “On the Train”, each musician finds a way to juxtapose rhythmic units against the basic pulse, which creates a unique heaving quality to the track. “The Box-Checkers” is based on the standard operational procedures of American academia, and the visceral anxiety of this piece comes as a shock after the relative calm of the Czech-inspired works. Skip’s mercurial piano takes the tension up to a higher level, and Daniel’s throaty tenor is particularly effective as he explores and develops meaty ideas. Hloucal and Urbánek also turn in impressive solos on this track. The title track is a relaxed work, with the rhythm evoking a springtime walk in Prague, inspiring joyous solos from Wilkins père and fils, as well as Baroš—all of whom must know this area well. I do not claim to have personal knowledge of Prague, but I did meet the subject of the next track, Bud Wilkins, who recently died from Alzheimer’s. The duet, “Don’t Forget Me” is a heartfelt tribute from father and son, based on an unwritten original melody that Skip recorded, memorized and developed over a two-year period. “In Search of Greener Grass” reflects a traveler’s wanderlust through a series of shifting key centers, which—significantly—return back to the original home key. “Reptiles” allows the group to stretch out on a blues, with Skip’s opening piano solo expanding the form far beyond its basic harmonies, Hloucal exploring with intriguing note choices, and Daniel’s soulful ideas enhancing Urbánek’s grooving beat. The final track, the up-tempo “Wise One” offers a catchy melody and rhythmically inventive solos from flugelhorn, piano and drums. Highly recommended.

Published May 2019 in Kulturní magazín UNI, Czech Republic, by Vladimír Kouřil
View review at www.magazinuni.cz

See English translation below.

Skvělý pianista Skip Wilkins se po přijatém pozvání na jazzové dílny ve Frýdlantu či Lomnici u Tišnova v roce 2007 natolik sbratřil s českými jazzmany, že společné nahrávky tvoří podstatnou část jeho CD diskografie. K sounáležitosti s naším jazzem se hlásí rovnou názvy svých CD: Czech Dreams (New Port Line, 2013) a nyní Czech Wishes (2018). Nahrávka pražsko-pensylvánského kvartetu vznikla před dvěma lety, kdy se Skip Wilkins uvolnil ze svého pedagogického působení na Lafayette College v Eatonu.

Prakticky jde o kvinteto – pátým členem je hostující tenorsaxofonista, Wilkinsův syn Daniel. Skip je autorem všech devíti skladeb a každá má konkrétní inspiraci v událostech a osobách z českého prostředí, což autor v bookletu obsažně vysvětluje. Hvězdou kapely je Miroslav Hloucal, jehož trubka a křídlovka sóly výrazně ovlivňují náladu skladeb. Napomáhá tomu také „sekční“ souzvuk s Danielovým tenorsaxofonem. S výrazovou škálou hry kvinteta se setkáme hned v úvodní Teacher, kde lyrické, tak trochu zasněné téma „nadhozené“ na počátku jak saxofonem, tak křídlovkou, se po Skipově melodickém sólu postupně rozehraje v živou pasáž v duchu hardbopových kvintet šedesátých let. Dravost sól obou dechařů, Hloucal tentokrát průraznějším zvukem trubky, se projeví skvěle v Munchkins of Karlovy Vary, také v The Box-Checkers. K hardbopové výbavě patří už od dob Johna Coltranea pomalé melodické balady, jak si zde užijeme v On the Train, s úvodním dlouhým sólem saxofonu. Název je dobrým příkladem dvojsmyslnosti výkladu: kdo si nepřečte Skipovo vysvětlení, že inspirací byla jeho cesta vlakem z Ostravy do Prahy, by z Danielovy hry odvodil inspiraci právě „Tranem“ – Johnem Coltranem, jak zní jeho přezdívka. V duchu hard bopu nechybí ani soulově funkové Reptiles. Album je velmi zdařilé, zcela současně souznějící s dědictvím moderního jazzu, kapela zní sehraně a je vzhledem k zeměpisnému rozhození členů po zeměkouli škoda, že zřejmě nebude mít vlastní vývojovou historii – což je ale problém obecnější na globální scéně.

After accepting an invitation to jazz workshops in Frýdlant in 2007 and then Lomnice u Tišnova, the great pianist Skip Wilkins befriended Czech jazzmen to such a degree that their joint recordings constitute a significant part of his CD discography. The titles of his CDs directly acknowledge his sense of belonging with our jazz community: Czech Dreams (New Port Line, 2013) and now Czech Wishes (2018). The recording of the Prague-Pennsylvania Quartet was made two years ago, while Skip enjoyed a sabbatical from his teaching responsibilties at Lafayette College in Easton.

In effect it is a quintet – the fifth member is guest tenor saxophonist, Wilkins's son Daniel. Skip is the composer of all nine pieces and each has a concrete inspiration involving events and individuals from his Czech surroundings, which the composer explains in detail in the booklet published with the release. The star of the ensemble is Miroslav Hloucal, whose trumpet and flügelhorn solos distinctively influence the mood of the compositions. The horn section harmony is also aided by Daniel's tenor saxophone. We meet the range of expression of the quintet in the introductory Teacher, lifted by a lyrical, somewhat dreamy theme, first with the saxophone and then with the flugelhorn. After Skip’s melodic solo it gradually gives way to lively passages in the spirit of 1960's hardbop quintets. The vigor of both horn soloists, Hloucal this time with a more striking trumpet sound, is evident in Munchkins of Karlovy Vary and also The Box-Checkers. Since the time of John Coltrane, the hardbop toolkit has included slow melodic ballads, such as we enjoy here with On the Train, with a long, opening saxophone solo. The title is a good example of the ambiguities of interpretation: one who does not read Skip's explanation that his inspiration was a train trip from Ostrava to Prague might infer that the inspiration in Daniel's playing comes from "Trane" – as in John Coltrane's nickname. In the spirit of hard bop there is also the soul-funk Reptiles. The album is very well-done, at the same time totally in line with the legacy of modern jazz. The group sounds tight and it is a pity that due to the geographical distribution of the members around the globe, it won't have its own developmental history – but this is more of a general problem with the global scene.

Published May 16, 2019 in JazzPort, Czech Republic, by Jan Hocek
View review at www.jazzport.cz
See English translation below.

V edici Bop edition vyšlo na značce New Port Line poslední březnový den nové album amerického pianisty a skladatele Skipa Wilkinse a jeho českého kvarteta. Tentokrát dokonce s hostujícícím tenorsaxofonistou (a synem) Danielem Wilkinsem. Dostalo titul „Czech Wishes“…

SKIP WILKINS QUARTET feat.DANIEL WILKINS se tak rozšířil na kvinteto. Z kvarteta, jež natočilo předešlé album „Czech Dreams“ zůstal jen kontrabasista Tomáš Baroš; nově přibyli trumpetista Miroslav Hloucal a bubeník Marek Urbánek.

Skip Wilkins má na svém kontě již třináct alb. Deset let působí v České republice jako muzikant i jako pedagog. S triem WUH (Wilkins, Uhlíř, Helešic) nahrál výtečný živáč „Live at Jazzinec“. Na novince reflektuje právě toto desetiletí, hlavně pak svůj vztah k druhému domovu, včetně setkávání s českými lidmi. Evidentně na ně měl štěstí, což se v jeho hudbě odráží. Sedmapadesátiminutová nahrávka vznikla před třemi lety ve studiu Svárov, což je zárukou kvality zvuku (a opět potvrzenou). S hostujícím saxofonistou pak nabývají vrchu dechy, jejichž sazby naplňují vrchovatě hard-bopový háv všech devíti kompozic.

Úvodní skladba „Teacher“ je inspirována autorovou učitelkou českého jazyka; zprvu cituplnou baladu rozčeří říznější dechy a dynamické proměny, ve kterých se střídá lyrika (sólo křídlovky) s emocemi a gradací (tenorsax). Svižnůstka „Munchkins of Karlovy Vary“ se strhujícími sóly (včetně bubeníka) je symptomaticky až filmově vystavěna. „On the Train“ na trase Ostrava-Praha zní zprvu jako příjemná balada, ale v závěru získá navrch gradující propletenec. V „The Box-Checkers“ vyjadřuje Wilkins hluboké znepokojení z drtívé byrokracie ve své vlasti (což lze brát jako poklonu naší zemi); hutné bopové sazby korunují eruptivní sóla trubky, piana, saxu a bicích. Titulní „Czech Wishes“ přináší všeobjímající, až west-coastové zklidnění, s nádherným kontrabasovým chorusem. „Don´t Forget Me“ je vzletným duetem otce a syna; Wilkinsové takto spolu hrají a natáčejí již od roku 2012. „Tohle zůstane v rodině. Musí,“ poznamenává Skip Wilkins v bookletu alba (mimochodem s fotkami Alžběty Jungrové). „Můj otec má Alzheimerovu nemoc. Skladbu popisuju takto: Pro mého otce, který zapomene, a pro moji matku, která si bude pamatovat nemilosrdnost Alzheimerovy choroby.“ V „In Search Of Green Grass“ hledají zelenější trávu v plném nasazení všichni aktéři; je radostí poslouchat jejich sóla. A že kvinteto dokáže swingovat jako o život, to dokazuje ve skladbě „Reptiles“; je to vskutku úžasná jízda, při níž piano doslova teče, dechy řežou a sóla vybuchují. Album vrcholí strhující hard-bopovkou „Wise On“…

Ano, kéž by taková „česká přání“ mělo u nás více lidí!

In the Bop edition, a new album by American pianist and composer Skip Wilkins and his Czech quartet was released on New Port Line on the last day of March. This time even with guest tenor saxophonist (and son) Daniel Wilkins. It is titled “Czech Wishes”...

SKIP WILKINS QUARTET featuring DANIEL WILKINS has expanded to a quintet. Only the double bass player Tomáš Baroš remains from the quartet which recorded the previous album “Czech Dreams”; newly added are trumpeter Miroslav Hloucal and drummer Marek Urbánek.

Skip Wilkins has released thirteen albums. For ten years he has been working in the Czech Republic as a musician and teacher. With Trio WUH (Wilkins, Uhlíř, Helešic) he made an excellent live recording "Live at Jazzinec". This decade is reflected in the new release, especially his relationship to his second home, including his encounters with Czech people. Evidently these encounters have been fortuitous, which is reflected in his music. The fifty-seven-minute recording was made three years ago in Studio Svárov, which is a guarantee of quality sound (herein confirmed again). With the guest saxophonist, the horns fully reach the heights of the hard-bop style in all nine compositions.

The opening composition “Teacher” is inspired by the composer’s Czech language teacher; initially a warm-hearted ballad, it energetically stirs up the winds and dynamic changes, in which a lyrical flügelhorn solo alternates with the emotional and increasingly intense tenor saxophone solo. The up-tempo “Munchkins of Karlovy Vary”, with thrilling solos (including from the drums), is constructed as if for the cinema. [Herein the author also expresses a cultural reference to the famous annual international Karlovy Vary Film Festival, held each July.]
"On the Train”, on the Ostrava-Praha line, sounds at first like a pleasant ballad, but in the end, a tangled intensity prevails.

In “The Box-Checkers” Wilkins expresses his deep anxiety about the crushing bureaucray in his homeland (which can be taken as a compliment to our country); dense bop solos crown the eruptive solos of trumpet, piano, saxophone and drums. The title track “Czech Wishes” brings an all-embracing, almost west-coast calm, with a gorgeous double bass chorus.

“Don't Forget Me" is a poetic duet of father and son; This Wilkins pair has been playing and recording since the year 2012. “This one stays in the family. It must,” Skip Wilkins commented in the CD booklet (by the way with photos from Alžběta Jungrová). “My father has Alzheimer’s. The composition is thus inscribed: For my father, who will forget, and for my mother, who will remember, a lament of Alzheimer’s Disease.” In “In Search of Greener Grass,” all the players are searching for greener grass in full force. And the quintet proves that they swing hard, as is evident in the composition “Reptiles”; it is a truly amazing trip in which the piano literally runs, the horns hit hard and the solos explode. The album culminates in the riveting hard-bop “Wise One”...

Yes, if only there would be among us more people with such “Czech Wishes”.

Jonáš, Czech Republic, by Ivan Kott
The reviewer wrote about three new releases, listing Czech Wishes first. See below for the English Translation,

Tři výjimečné počiny

Nových hudebních alb stále vzniká hodně a nelze tuto produkci v plné šíři sledovat, ale občas se dostanu k něčemu, co mě zaujme a potěší. Patří sem i tři alba, o nichž bych se rád ve stručnosti zmínil.
To první se jmenuje CZECH WISHES a jeho autorem je skvělý americký klavírista, skladatel a pedagog Skip Wilkins z Eastonu v Pennsylvánii. Album nahrál SKIP WILKINS QUARTET, v němž vedle autora hrajícího na piano účinkují Miroslav Hloucal (trubka a křídlovka), Tomáš Baroš (kontrabas) a Marek Urbánek (bicí). K této čtveřici se připojil Skipův syn, saxofonista Daniel, který na pár koncertů a natáčení alba přiletěl ze svého amerického domova. Na albu je nahráno devět skladeb a bylo vydáno v New Port Line, kde v roce 2013 už vyšlo Skipovo první české album nazvané Czech Dreams. Autor v bookletu věnuje každé skladbě poznámku a k té titulní říká, že vyjadřuje jeho pocity a přání pro pokračující dobrodružství v České republice, kterou si oblíbil hned při své první návštěvě v roce 2007. Od té doby se také systematicky učí česky a první skladbu alba věnuje právě své české učitelce. Hudba je výtečně zaranžovaná a na posluchače z ní dýchne jakási ozvěna tvorby jazzových velikánů minulých desetiletí a respekt k jejich hudbě.

Three exceptional achievements

Many new musical albums are coming out constantly and it is not possible to keep track of all of the new releases in their entirety. This includes three albums, which I would like to briefly mention.

The first is called CZECH WISHES, led by the excellent American pianist, composer and pedagogue Skip Wilkins, from Easton, Pennsylvania. The SKIP WILKINS QUARTET recorded the album. Playing alongside the composer-pianist is Miroslav Hloucal (trumpet and flügel horn), Tomáš Baroš (double bass) and Marek Urbánek (drums). Joining this quartet is Skip's son, saxophonist Daniel, who arrived from his American home to play a few concerts and record the album. Nine pieces are recorded on this album, released by New Port Line Records, which also released Skip's first Czech album Czech Dreams. The composer writes dedications for each song in the album notes and with the title song expresses his feelings and wishes for continuing adventures in the Czech Republic, a country he liked immediately during his first visit in 2007. Since then, Skip has also been learning Czech systematically and he dedicates his first composition to his Czech teacher. The music is superbly arranged and listeners will be treated to echoes of jazz greats from past decades as well as respect for their music.

Published March 15, 2019 in Jazz Quad, Russia
View review at www.jazzquad.ru

Все хорошо у американского пианиста и композитора Скипа Уилкинса. Представляемый сегодня альбом – уже тринадцатый в его дискографии. В настоящее время Скип является профессором полной практики в Lafayette College, в Истоне, Пенсильвания. А до того около десяти лет, подобно многим американским джазменам, провел в Европе. Но привлекли его не Париж, Стокгольм или Лондон, а самое сердце Европы – Чехия. Что ж, каждый, кто хоть раз бывал в этой стране и в одном из самых красивых городов мира Праге, поймет Скипа Уилкинса, поймет и причины, почему свой новый альбом он назвал Czech Wishes и записал его в одной из чешских студий под Прагой в сопровождении чешских джазменов: трубача Мирослава Хлукала, басиста Томаша Бароша и ударника Марека Урбанека.

Впрочем, еще один американец в студии тоже был. Это тенор-саксофонист Дэниэл Уилкинс, сын Скипа. В принципе, у отца и сына свои пути в джазе. Выпускник Manhattan School of Music, Дэниэл и сам много играет и гастролирует как в Штатах, так и в Европе. Впервые совместный альбом с сыном Скип записал в 2012 году, вполне логично назвав его Father and Son. Нынешняя чешско-американская запись – второй опыт их сотрудничества.

Все девять треков альбома – авторские работы Скипа Уилкинса. Естественно, большинство из них посвящено Чехии. Уже стартовая Teacher (Učitelka) – это воспоминание о первой учительнице чешского языка Даше, раскрывавшей Скипу тонкости языка Гашека и Кундеры. А есть еще и Munchkins of Karlovy Vary, и On the Train (Ve vlaku), и In Search of Greener Grass (Při hledání zelenější trávy), и конечно, титульная Czech Wishes. Мне даже кажется, что The Box-Checkers, навеянная Скипу впечатлениями от бюрократии в современной Америке, не могла появиться без влияния «Процесса» знаменитого уроженца Праги Франца Кафки. Особняком стоит в программе Don’t Forget Me, где дуэтом отец и сын Уилкинсы вспоминают, соответственно, отца и деда, страдавшего от болезни Альцгеймера. А вообще ансамбль получился очень сильный. Хороши оба духовика, Дэниэл Уилкинс и Мирослав Хлукал, очень понравился ударник Марек Урбанек, ну а сам Скип не только ярко и точно солирует, но и ведет за собой весь ансамбль, как подлинный лидер. Стилистически – мэйнстрим, исполненнный при этом с большим чувством и вкусом.



Skip Wilkins Trio, featuring Amber Emerson, Hello Jazz Weekend, Uherské Hradiště, July 20, 2018

Published July 24, 2018 in the Czech newspaper “Dobrý Den”, concerning the performance on July 20th.
View review at www.idobryden.cz

Americans Were the Stars of Jazz Weekend

The Slovácko region hosted the first European performance of the talented Amber Emerson.

Fans of jazz in our region waited again for [the annual] Jazz Weekend, again hosted in the Slovácko region in this the nineteenth year.

Once again the highlight of the weekend was the MainStage concert, thanks to which the courtyard of the Jesuit College in Uherské Hradiště was filled with fans of this musical genre and specific lifestyle. Long a regular here and again for the umpteenth time, American musician Skip Wilkins was featured. Accompanying him were drummer Tomáš Hobzek and double bassist Tomáš Baroš. Skip Wilkins brought the talented singer Amber Emerson with him from the United States. “She is my most talented student, who graduated from Moravian College in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” Skip Wilkins revealed concerning the nineteen-year-old [sic] singer*. In addition to this group, the Freeland group was also featured during the MainStage concert, as well as František Uhlíř Team with another foreign guest, Lee Andrew Davison.

  Slovácko is a region crossing borders with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, where there are similar cultures and especially wine. Uherské Hradiště is the main city of this region, located in the southeast of the Czech Republic, close to the Slovak border. *Amber Emerson was twenty-two at the time of this concert.

Trio WUH: Live at Jazzinec

Founded in January, 2012 in Prague after an almost impromptu first gig together as a group, Trio WUH—which, although had been a part of a previous recording from the Prague Castle along with several other groups—present their solo debut album Live at Jazzinec taken from a 2013 live recording in Trutnov, Czech Republic. Spending his time between Pennsylvania and the Czech Republic, American pianist Skip Wilkins and Czech band mates, string bassist Frantisek Uhlir and drummer Jaromir Helesic, were in the middle of a three-week tour when one of their live performances—at Festival Jazzinec—happened to be recorded without their knowledge at the time. The presentation of select standards and new originals in a surprising but fortunate documentation of Trio WUH's live set, captures a compelling performance from arguably, one of the best new dynamic trios in the jazz world today.

The music begins with perhaps the most ambitious piece of the set, an audacious and expansive rendition of the time-honored Jimmy Van Heusen classic "The Second Time Around" featuring a monster performance from Wilkins on the keys as well as sensational solos from Uhlir, who comes from the "Czech String-bass playing school" as well as strong and sturdy drum work by Helesic—in a formula repeated throughout the session. The group plays fast and furious on Uhlir's "Bossa Cosa," the first of the bassist's three originals and then in contrast, slows down the tempo on the balladic Wilkins piece "Quiet, Please!

The trio seems to be on fire performing with gusto on such tunes as "You Are Never at Home," Wilkins' "Take The Fourth" and the devilish but outstanding version of the "Devil May Care" standard—all highlighted by more superb solos from members of the band. As tight and terrific this trio sounds performing lively up beat material, they are just as good when delivering the soft stuff as they do so well on the warm treatment of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Luiza," Uhlir's last original "Song for Jane," and the Harry Warren finale standard "I'll String Along with You."

There always seem to be a plethora of piano trio recordings to choose from but few, leave a lasting impression and stand out above the rest. Such is the case with Live at Jazzinec an elite recording from the cohesive musical force Trio WUH, three veteran musicians who combine their writing skills and talents as players in making musical statements hard to ignore.

All About Jazz

English translation coming in 2015

První album z festivalu Jazzinec je na světě!

Po 15 letech trvání trutnovského festivalu Jazzinec vyšlo konečně také album, jež dokumentuje nejen neopakovatelnou atmosféru, ale také kvalitu tohoto jazzového festivalu v náručí Krkonoš. Poslední únorový den loňského roku zde vystoupilo Trio WUH, to jest Skip Wilkins, František Uhlíř a Jaromír Helešic. Byl to nápad organizátora festivalu Tomáše Katschnera, že zvukový mistr Antonín Šturm a jeho tým pořídil záznam tohoto koncertu. Poté ho poskytli samotným aktérům. „Byli jsme překvapeni a zároveň nadšeni technickou a hudební úrovní tohoto záznamu!“ vyjádřil se Uhlíř. „To nás přivedlo na myšlenku vydat toto album.“

Dostalo jednoduchý, ale všeříkající titul „Live at Jazzinec“ a na ploše celkové stopáže 64 minut se Trio WUH představuje opravdu v té nejskvělejší formě. Skip Wilkins, tento nyní v Čechách usazený americký pianista, má ostatně již na svém kontě jedno z nejzdařilejších loňských alb u nás - „Czech Dreams“ (viz. http://jazzport.cz/2013/12/06/skip-wilkins-quartet-aneb-americanovy-ceske-sny/ ). Kontrabasistu Františka Uhlíře a bubeníka Jaromíra Helešice netřeba představovat, patří bezesporu již řadu let k jazzovým instrumentalistům minimálně evropského formátu. Když k tomu přidáte čirou radost, chuť, zápal a patřičné muzikantské sebevědomí všech tří aktérů plus to nejlepší momentální tvůrčí rozpoložení, vyjde vám prostě úžasné jazzové album!

Hned z úvodního Van Heusenova standardu „The Second Time Around“ (napsaného původně pro Binga Crosbyho) na vás začne stříkat životodárná energie, jakou se vyznačuje hra těch nejlepších klasických trií jazzové historie. Uhlíř zde vystřihne první ze svých dechberoucích sól – evidentně byl hned od počátku nejvíce nažhavený. Což potvrzuje v následující, vlastní kompozici „Bossa Cosa“, kde se z latiny vylupují basové erupce, z nichž Uhlíř dokáže vykouzlit obrovské perly a démanty, zatímco zvuk tria houstne čím dál víc a místy je to až krkolomné, takže takovou nadupanou jízdu je vskutku dobrodružstvím poslouchat. Při poslechu Wilkinsovy skladby „Quiet, Please!“ se přistihuji, že nestíhám pojmout celé trio, kolik se tam toho uvnitř hustého hudebního magmatu děje, všichni tři protagonisté v podstatě nepřetržitě sólují. A taky se přiznám, že Uhlířův kontrabas má u mne opět navrch. Jo, a zapomněl jsem k této skladbě napsat, že jde o baladu! Pánové, kam až půjdete v tom svém bezuzdném improvizačním třeštění? Takovou otázku jsem si maně položil a netrpělivě jsem očekával věci příští. Svižná Uhlířova hard-bopovka „You Are Never At Home“ rozpaluje doběla také Wilkinse a představí se i Helešic coby nezničitelně mladistvý bubenický rebelant. Jobimova lyrická pecka „Luiza“ skýtá pro Wilkinse a Uhlíře příležitost k virtuozitě, která však baladičnost nepopírá, spíše svou emotičností umocňuje. Wilkinsova kompozice „Take the Fourth“ dokazuje naplno vskutku kongeniální, až telepatickou souhru tria, přičemž jejich hra zde dosahuje energetického vrcholu. Uhlíř zahraje sólo smyčcem, pianista to na vás hrne bez pardónu, rytmika je svou plastičností až přízračná, všichni hrají s živočišnou chutí. Všechno to vrcholí střídavými sóly celého trojlístku. Následující Uhlířova balada „Song for Jane“ je nádhernou ukázkou především citlivé kontrabasové hry smyčcem a představuje nutné zklidnění po předchozích krkolomnostech. Baladu střídá be-bopovka „Devil May Care“, již napsal v roce 1956 pianista Bob Dorough. Wilkins přebírá jeho výrazný motiv po svém, prolamuje ho, činí ho hutnějším, aby dal posléze vyniknout Uhlířovým vršení, kaskádám, erupcím, prohmatům a posunům. Helešic se tady taky nechává slyšet, jeho sólem skladba vrcholí. Závěrečná „I´ll String Along With You“ představuje emočně i citově mocné uchopení milostné písně Harryho Warrena z roku 1934, po níž však o 65 let později šáhla taková Diane Krall. Trio WUH zde hraje „jakoby nic“, ale vám se z toho až tají dech...

Na mimořádně vydařeném albu se samozřejmě podepsali také Yarda Helešic (mix, mastering), malíř Jiří Votruba, grafik Petr Šabach a fotograf Patrick Marek (grafika), díky Petru Gabrielovi a jeho firmě Rayservice pak mohlo být toto CD vydáno. Album „Live at Jazzinec“ Trio WUH pokřtilo dne 9.března v pražské Redutě (viz.fotoreport Patricka Marka).


English translation coming in 2015

Až takmer náhoda spôsobila, že český jazzový festival Jazzinec (Trutnov) má na svojom konte prvý oficiálny album s názvom Live at Jazzinec! Postaralo sa oň trio popredných českých jazzmanov, akými Jaromír Helešic – bicie nástroje a František Uhlíř – kontrabas, nesporne sú. A na trio ich dopĺňa americký skladateľ a klavirista Skip Wilkins, ktorý už niekoľko rokov má svoj druhý domov v Prahe. Trio WUH vystupovalo na vlaňajšom ročníku Jazzinca, ale organizátor festivalu Tomáš Katschner dal pokyny zvukovému majstrovi Antonínovi Šturmovi, aby koncert nahral. Výsledok je viac ako dobrý! Na albume a ploche viac ako 64 minút je 9 kompozícií, o ktoré sa autorsky podelili Uhlíř (3), Wilkins (2) a štandardy (4). Celým albumom sa ťahá línia vynikajúcej nálady, skvelých výkonov všetkých troch osobností, nadhľadu a bezstarostnosti. Pohoda tria "nakazí" okamžite aj vás pri počúvaní. Možnože je niekdy lepšie nič na nahrávanie nepripravovať, len stlačiť rec! S majstrami svojich nástrojov to ide vždy ľahko!

Sk.jazz.sk, Slovak Republic



Skip Wilkins Quartet: Czech Dreams

World-class jazz pianist Skip Wilkins regularly splits his time between Eastern Pennsylvania—where he teaches at Lafayette College in Easton—and Central Europe where he recently spent fifteen months in Prague. Czech Dreams, dedicated to the Czech people, is a result of touring throughout the Czech Republic and Germany and cementing his relationship with friend and Prague-based guitarist Libor Smoldas who is part of this recording. Recorded at Studio Svarov in the Czech Republic, the album offers a selection of eleven sensitive original instrumental and vocal pieces presenting an enticing and appealing musical package of modern jazz.

Along with bassist Tomas "Kastan" Baros and drummer Tomas Hobzek, forming the remaining cast of the core quartet, Wilkins invited touring partner saxophonist Rostislav Fras and Moravian singer Marie Puttnerova who lends warm vocals on the delicate "You Will Find It" and joins the leader on the buoyant "Uvidime" (We Will See). The dream begins to unfold on the medium tempo romp of "Musime" (We Must) where the pianist takes charge displaying his more than appreciable chops on the instrument accompanied well by saxophonist Fras on a superb opening statement. Wilkins' piano solo on the following "Haven't You...?" is not to be missed while the music on "Nikdo Nevi" (Nobody Knows) is fast-paced, energetic and brings guitarist Smoldas as well as drummer Hobzek to the fore with a mighty solos of their own.

Bassist Baros weighs in with a measured solo on the light and beautiful waltz of "Noci v Opera" (Nights at the Opera) propelled by more of Fras's inviting tenor solos in stark contrast to the dark texture of the following "Sasa and the Tale of the Freezy Queen" where the bassist once again proves to be a major part of the rhythm section as he does again on "Vzhuru Dolu" (Up Down) before another Wilkins romp. The music begins to wind down with the brief but gorgeous ballad of "Didn't Say" and closes on the soft title track dotted with light riffs from Smoldas and warm touches from the leader.

Jazz has no boundaries and apparently neither does pianist Skip Wilkins who has made Eastern Europe his second base of operations. Czech Dreams is an impressive sophisticated offering of European-flavored

Edward Blanco, All About Jazz (December 28, 2013)

English translation coming in 2015

České sny rodáka z Massachusetts

Zajímavou novinku připravil pro jazzové publikum americký klavírista a skladatel Skip Wilkins. S českými spoluhráči nahrál album SKIP WILKINS QUARTET - CZECH DREAMS, jehož vydání se ujal Petr Marek a jeho New Port Line. Na interpretaci jedenácti skladeb alba se podílí kvarteto ve složení Skip Wilkins – piano, Libor Šmoldas – kytara, Tomáš Baroš – kontrabas a Tomáš Hobzek – bicí, které ve třech skladbách doplňuje hostující saxofonista Rostislav Fraš. Ženský element zastupuje ve dvou případech mladá zpěvačka Marie Puttnerová, s níž se Skip Wilkins seznámil při svém několikanásobném působení na Letní jazzové dílně Karla Velebného ve Frýdlantu. Díky několika krátkodobým pobytům v České republice a samozřejmě i své píli hovoří Skip docela dobře česky, což předvedl při prezentaci alba v klubu Jazz Dock v neděli 3. listopadu, ale také při volbě názvů skladeb, z nichž šest je v češtině.

Vstup do alba je skutečně velkolepý. Ve skladbě Musíme zazní po úvodní společné minutovce Skipovo strhující sólo, na nějž naváže stejně bravurně Frašův tenor saxofon, aby po něm dostala příležitost kytara s kontrabasem. Ve skladbě Haven´t You…? věnované jednomu úředníkovi české cizinecké policie, dostala prostor Liborova kytara, a v následující Nikdo neví inspirovalo toto často užívané úsloví Skipa k rychlému reji prstů po klávesách a Tomáše Hobzeka k pěknému sólu. Obdobně je možno sledovat další skladby, v nichž Skip dává svým spoluhráčům vedle svého klavíru dostatek příležitostí k sólovým improvizacím. Pokud jde o Marušku Puttnerovou, její zpěv beze slov zaujme především ve skladbě You Will Find It hrané ve volném tempu, v níž chtěl Skip sdělit, co zde našel. Podle jemného a něžného vyznění skladby to asi bylo něco hezkého. Podruhé se Maruščin příjemný hlas ozve ve skladbě Uvidíme, kde se k němu na chvíli připojí se zpěvem i Skip, který pak zahraje krátkou pasáž na nástroj zvaný melodica, což je vlastně klávesová foukací harmonika. Závěrečná Czech Dreams je skutečně snová improvizace, do níž každý z členů kvarteta vkládá svůj osobní příspěvek. V bookletu Skip u této skladby také hovoří o inspiračním zdroji zvaném slivovice.

Je jistě potěšitelné, že takový muzikant a hudební pedagog, jakým Skip Wilkins je, nahrává a vystupuje s našimi mladými jazzmany. Je to jen dalším potvrzením dobré úrovně naší jazzové scény, s níž by ovšem měl jít ruku v ruce i zájem posluchačské veřejnosti.

Ivan Kott, Jonáš (CZ)

English translation coming in 2015

Narozen v Massachussetts, od roku 1995 žije v Pennsylvánii, kde je vůdčí jazzovou osobností, se kterou si zalétávají (či zalétávali) zahrát legendy jako Dave Liebman, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Watson, Clark Terry a Al Grey, muzikant a pedagog, jenž od roku 2007 často působí ve střední Evropě, včetně Česka – mezi červnem 2011 až srpnem 2012 žil nepřetržitě v Praze a také vyučoval jazzový klavír na brněnské JAMU. To je SKIP WILKINS, který si vybral tři naše muzikanty z mladší jazzové generace, kytaristu Libora Šmoldase, kontrabasistu Tomáše „Kaštana“ Baroše a bubeníka Tomáše Hobzeka, aby s takto vzniklým kvartetem natočil jako lídr své v pořadí dvanácté album. To nese titul „CZECH DREAMS“, vzniklo ve Studiu Svárov, mícháno a mástrováno bylo v USA – ostatně jak už je zvykem v případě nahrávek, produkovaných Petrem Markem pro jeho label New Port Line. CD je opět „vymazleno“ i co se týče výtvarné stránky – svérázné fotografie Alžběty Jungrové jsou opravdu navýsost podařené!

SKIP WILKINS QUARTET podává na ploše bezmála 57 minut opravdu výkon z kategorie snů. A nejen českých. Všech jedenáct Wilkinsových autorských kompozic je však nějakým způsobem spjato s Čechami a především Moravou, a také jsou „Czech people“ dedikovány. Zvuk kvarteta v několika skladbách obohacují hosté Rostislav Fraš s tenorovým a sopránovým saxofonem (s ním již Wilkins – a jeho mezinárodní kvintet – natočil, a to díky Českému rozhlasu, album „Frýdlant Nights“, jež zachycuje jejich vystoupení v srpnu 2009 na Letní jazzové dílně ve Frýdlantě) a nadějná zpěvačka z Moravy Marie Puttnerová.

Album „Czech Dreams“ má navzdory své vzácné vyrovnanosti dva vrcholy, ale k těm se ještě dostanu. V úvodním tracku „Musíme“ slyším Janáčka, obvzláště v klavírním sóle, a nebude to asi náhoda, neboť Wilkins tuto skladbu napsal pro přítele – rodilého Moraváka. Hostující Frašův tenor je také patřičně vřelý. Kytarista Šmoldas svůj part naopak velmi neobvykle staví a šperkuje, stejně tak bubeník Hobzek. Ten ostatně na celém albu hraje kongeniálně geniálně, abych se i já vyjádřil neobvykle a překvapivě, jeho hra je pestrá, a přitom neztrácí tep – bravo! Následující „Haven´t You…?“ (inspirované obligátní zdvořilou otázkou úředníka cizinecké policie) skrývá mistrně vystavěné, až bluesově naléhavé kytarové sólo a neméně znamenité klavírní sólo, jež je určující především pro gradaci skladby. Wilkins je po této stránce excelentním sólistou ve všech jedenácti případech. V expresivní „Nikdo neví“ tvrdí muziku eruptivní basa Kaštana Baroše, Šmoldasova kytara je také vypjatá, ale spíše svým neklidem, jakoby napjatými nervy, Hobzek to pak vše smete svým sólem. Protipólem je křehká balada „You Will Find It“ s gospelovými barvami, éterickým vokálem hostující Marie Puttnerové, spirituálovým klavírem a spirituálním basovým sólem. Následují „Noci v opeře“, věnovány přítelkyni Kristýně, s níž Wilkins chodil do Národního divadla na operní představení. Nad valčíkovým půdorysem se klenou nádherné west-coastové kantilény, ozdobené basovým a sopránsaxofonovým sólem. První vrchol, jak jsem se výše zmínil, představuje kompozice „Saša and the Tale Of the Freezy Queen“, inspirovaná Wilkinsovými přáteli z Lomnice u Tišnova, nadšenými muzikanty. Hobzekova rytmická figura (mimochodem jeho nápad) je prostě od pánaboha, ten s ní (myslím Hobzek) navíc ještě dále pracuje, zhušťuje ji či rozpíná – vzniká tak až fyzické napětí, v němž se obalují avantgardně znějící sóla tenoru a piana. Poté přichází odlehčení v podobě svižné be-bopovky „Vzhůru dolů“ se sólovými vizitkami všech členů kvarteta a pohodovky „Uvidíme“ (inspirace v další české frázi) v rytmu bossa-novy, s osvěžujícím Wilkinsovým sólem na melodiku a vokálem Puttnerové. Hard-bopovka „Proč ne? (Píseň pro Dašu)“ je věnována učitelce češtiny, s Kaštanovým bluesovým úvodem a poté s krátkými sóly všech protagonistů, která se proplétají, a celá ta skladba tudíž uhání jako s větrem o závod. Krátká balada bez improvizace „Didn´t Say“ přináší zklidnění, aby pak album vyvrcholilo v opravdové jazzové osmitisícovce pod titulním názvem „Czech Dreams“, jež je mistrně vystavěná, graduje a voní po slivovici!

Co říci na závěr? Snad jen to, že v krátkém čase vyšly na labelu New Port Line tři jazzové desky, které patří k tomu nejlepšímu, co u nás letos vyšlo – vedle alb Štveráčkova kvarteta a SoulMates mám na mysli právě toto!

Jazzport (CZ)



Joint review of "After" (original material) and "I Concentrate on You" (standards) in Cadence Magazine!

Below, the writer is referring to these two CDs:

The story of (these two releases), recorded one day apart in the same place, is intriguing. Wilkins planned to record a CD of originals, titled 'After' (the occasion being that his children had gone off to college—what to do 'after'?). And he did—but with enough studio time to spare that the trio could embark on a separate CD of the standard repertoire they enjoyed playing and explored so easily. The trio is beautifully integrated, bass and drums in equitable support of Wilkins’ rippling lines. As a composer, Wilkins has a flair for melodies—'Words I Remember,' 'Waiting for Prague,' and 'Since You Asked' being particularly pretty and introspective. Bassist Lee and drummer Hirshfield evoke rich sounds, creating an ideal trio. The companion CD of standards is inventive but respectful, melodic but never dull. It’s far from cliché-ridden Easy Listening: admire their energetic 'Bye Bye Blackbird' and the two versions of 'Portrait of Jenny.' This trio was new to me, but their work is completely convincing on many levels.


After / Skip Wilkins Trio (Import Version)

American pianist, Skip Wilkins, currently living in Prague, Czech Republic, created this New York Trio album. Skip has performed as a talented co-star with such famous musicians as Dave Liebman (sax), Stanley Turrentine (Ts), Clark Terry (Tp), and Conte Candoli (Tp). He is a graduate of The Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he is also a professor. All compositions on the album are original compositions filled with emotional intelligence and a unique Skip Wilkins feel. Due perhaps to the time Skip has spent in both Europe and the U.S., there is a blend of cutting-edge New York jazz and classical jazz elements. “After,” the title song, exhibits innovative phrasing and harmonic technique. ”Don’t Drink Anything Hot,” and “Architect’s Delight” are interesting compositions utilizing dissonance reminiscent of Thelonious Monk. Bassist Scott Lee’s singing solos help to further enhance the sounds of the trio.

(N.B., Skip Wilkins taught at Berklee during the summer of 1988 and continues now as associate professor of music at Lafayette College; on sabbatical for 2011-2012, and living in Prague.)

Special thanks to Larry and Noriko Stockton, who translated this review from the original Japanese.

www.jazzpage.net (Japan)

Skip Wilkins Trio - I Concentrate on You (Dreambox Media ***)
Skip Wilkins - After (Dreambox Media ***)

Pianist Skip Wilkins has assembled two CDs, one of standards (already out) and the other of originals (due out this summer).

The current Lafayette College jazz professor, who is relocating to Europe, says he made After for his grown children who had left home. The intuitive set with drummer Jeff Hirshfield and bassist Scott Lee projects a warm, rich tone and a questing vibe at times. The title track certainly produces righteous heat.

I Concentrate on You fits nicely in the same trio's wheelhouse, although it's also more predictable. The Cole Porter title track is full of pleasant thoughts, while "Who Cares?" swings vigorously. "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise" presents a caffeinated encounter before a gentle close.

Karl Stark - Philadelphia Inquirer (April 24, 2011)


Rostislav Fraš – Skip Wilkins Quintet has a “perfectly mastered repertoire, composed entirely of their own compositions.”

Wilkins is “an inventive composer.”

“If international cooperation worked so well in other spheres, the world would be just beautiful.”

Muzikus.cz (April 28, 2010)


The Paint-Peeler melds together elements of traditional, modern, and free jazz in a mélange of creative energy and expression. Wilkins' compositions and arrangements are full of emotion and intellectual fervor, while his improvisations are first-rate and are constantly being enhanced by the rest of the ensemble. The quintet, consisting of Paul Kendall on saxes, Tom Kozic on guitar, Tony Marino on bass, and Gary Rissmiller on drums, moves between '60s avant-garde free-improvisation and '50s style swing in a manner that is both seamless and captivating.

Drawing upon influences such as Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, Wilkins' improvisations constantly push the band to new levels of creativity. Whether it's the barn-burning title track or the Evans-influenced slow waltz, "December (As I Would Have It)," there is never a moment where Wilkins sounds uncomfortable or at less than his best. Aside from his soloing, Wilkins is also an exemplary accompanist. His ability to move between a modern-acoustic feel ("Standing in the Wind") and an electric-fusion feel à la Joe Zawinul ("Trappers in the Family") helps to push the other band members to new levels of creativity in their solos.

Matthew Warnock, All About Jazz (May 03, 2009)


Philadelphia pianist Skip Wilkins' writing covers a lot of ground but he has a particularly nice touch both composing and playing ballads like 'Glow' and 'December.' His more uptempo work is loud and aggressive. 'Swiftly' is a fast walking tune that dissolves into tenor bleats and abstract bowed bass while 'The Paint-Peeler' is a fast piece that lets saxophonist Paul Kendall and guitarist Tom Kozic chase each other around. 'Standing In The Wind' is built out of Monkish chords and gives Kendall a chance to really honk, 'Trappers In The Family' is a lurching Jazz-rock stomp fronted by baritone sax, electric keyboards, and twangy rock guitar, and 'Bring The Sun' closes things out with a fast, nimble samba. Wilkins and his band have put together an enjoyable and eclectic set.

Cadence (Spring 2009)


O's Notes: This solo recording was Skip's way of introducing himself to the community at Lafayette College when he joined the faculty during 2000. It's a strong performance including several different genres both originals and standards. It serves well as entertainment either in the background or for serious listening. Wilkins traverses the keys softly at times and then with fervor but always extracting good vibrations. The recording lay dormant for years as his collaborative efforts with his quintet yielded two albums. When Skip decided to record a solo CD, he realized he already had a gem and we're glad he looked back! This one is very good. 4/4

O's Place Jazz Newsletter (October 29, 2007)


"...Wilkins serves up an enjoyable set of Jazz standards leavened by a few originals...This recording is from a solo piano concert given in Pennsylvania in 2000, a fact that I quite forgot until the applause at the end of the "Peau Douce" reminded me. It's easy to forget as the recording sounds good and the piano sounds first-rate. Wilkins himself is also first-rate for although the idiom is pretty much as conservative as the titles would suggest, he steers largely clear of outright cliché...you can certainly hear echoes of Bill Evans, Monk, Bud Powell, the Blues (even during Chopin's "Waltz") and perhaps some Ramsey Lewis inflected funk ("Hackensack"), but his lyrical voice sounds convincingly personal despite the outside influences in play. Wilkins possesses a deft technique though he is not a particularly showy pianist - as with most good musicians, technique is at the service of the music and not the other way around. Harmonically, he is right out of the Evans-Peterson bag and the lines don't stray far from the chord but there is a sense of lyrical conviction that serves him well enough even within the confines of traditional Jazz harmony. I particularly enjoyed his interpretation of Carmichael's beautiful "Skylark" with its hints of Stride piano spiced with some subtle reharmonization. Of the originals, "Take the Fourth" is probably the best...the three examples of his writing work well within the context of the set as a whole...I enjoyed this CD and I can recommend it to those who love these tunes."

Cadence Magazine


Pianist Skip Wilkins continues his easy-to-take ways on this follow-up to last year's more up-tempo Volume I. Wilkins, who teaches at Lafayette College in Easton, doesn't wax professorial on this set of nine originals. The session sounds like West Coast cool but with updated, East Coast suavity.  The quintet—tenor saxophonist Paul Kendall, guitarist Tom Kozic, bassist Tony Marino and drummer Gary Rissmiller—regularly creates a likable languor. The tunes evolve—the fast-moving "Need Some Ice" hits a soulful interlude courtesy of Kendall, while "Quiet, Please," written for a local politician whom Wilkins found irritating, comes off as chamomile mellow.  Nice trick if you can do it. "Fortuitous Fifteen" is more angular and bopish yet still melodic, while
"Hold Me" is all liquid ballad.

Philadelphia Inquirer (September 16, 2007)


Pianist Skip Wilkins gathers some musically sympathetic colleagues in Easton, Pennsylvania, for the second part of a marathon session.  Wilkins's pieces are well thought out, with plenty of musical mile-markers in the solo sections to tie in with the various head structures...the musical quality is always there.

The CD begins with a Silver-Blakey influenced mid-tempo quasi-shuffle, "For Ten Percent," a tune with some definite soul.  Paul Kendall's straight-ahead tenor solo reminds a little of Frank Foster or Benny Golson in its overall approach. Guitarist Tom Kozic comes through with a burnished tone like [Kenny] Burrell and he is no slouch.  The rhythm section cooks along, drummer Rissmiller sounds tasty.  Skip takes a solo next in an impeccable way according to the style at hand.  An engaging tune.

A pretty ballad in three follows, called "Used to Be." Wilkins takes a solo which gives you his lyrical-melodic sincerity and Kendall's tenor sounds a bit like Shorter in a wistful mood.  He builds the solo as the rhythm section takes on a kind of 1962 Miles [Davis] feel...

A [Wayne] Shorter ESP period-like "Betrayal" follows, with a rather wispy tenor motif and piano response.  Then follows an almost polite post-[Bill] Evans "Hold Me" with quiet chords on piano with quiet guitar commentary.  The tenor does a Shorteresque cantabile and it's all quite sensitive...well-wrought, quite pleasant...the song craft is in abundant evidence...the rhythm section strongly anchors the date and it's all solid...

Cadence Magazine, August 2007


Pianist Skip Wilkins goes from soulful, gut-bucket mode to rich ballads to angular modern jazz on this tasteful set of original tunes. The opening "It Was Bound to Happen" is the session's earthiest cut, with tenor saxophonist Paul Kendall keening and guitarist Tom Kozic in full wail over the two-chord vamp that's included here. Wilkins, who teaches music at Lafayette College in Easton, shows a yen for bop structure on the horn-heavy "Take the Fourth." His solo on "Stephanie's Song" is silky supper-club stuff, while "No Parking" tends toward the fast-twitch neurotic before it seques into a softer groove. The session with bassist Tony Marino and drummer Gary Rissmiller is understated and generally full of pleasant smoky moments.

Karl Stark - Philadelphia Inquirer (Nov 12, 2006)


Pianist/composer/bandleader Skip Wilkins is a talented musician working out of Eastern Pennsylvania, where he teaches at the Williams Center for the Arts [Lafayette College] in Easton in addition to making gigs in Philadelphia, the Poconos and New York City. He's recorded several albums with flutist Jill Allen and has compiled, over the years, an impressive catalog of original compositions, now available on Volume I, soon to be followed by a companion volume.

Culled from three separate concerts given at his college, the CD documents the interworkings of a cohesive band playing over well-conceived material. Consisting of Wilkins (piano), Paul Kendall (tenor saxophone), Tom Kozic (guitar), Tony Marino (bass) and Gary Rissmiller (drums), the quintet makes music marked by an informality and intimacy gained only through close association and mutual respect. Wilkins has penned some very fine tunes here, including: "It Was Bound to Happen" (a two-beat funker with an expansive and lyrical phrase structure), "Stephanie's Song" (a beautiful ballad in 3/4) and "Unforgotten" (a pensive, exploratory ballad). There are some brisk uptempo numbers too -- Wilkins likes to call them "rumbles" -- over which the group members acquit themselves to forceful effect, as on "No Parking," when guitarist Kozic comes crashing out of the starting gate, only to catch a mellow stride at the solo's mid-stretch.

The band (with a pinch-hitter on bass) gave New Yorkers a chance to sample their wares at a mid-December mid-afternoon concert at BigAppleJazz/EZ's Woodshed, a newish Harlem one-stop bop-shop created by Gordon Polatnick. The camaraderie and compatibility suggested by the recording was immediately apparent on the bandstand as Wilkins and friends treated listeners to selections from the CD as well as some from the yet-to-be-released Vol. II, setting these compositional gems in an aesthetically apposite musical jewel box.

Tom Greenland - All About Jazz (Jan 7, 2007)


For his third disc as a leader, it's easy to suggest Wilkins has come of age as a pianist and composer. Wilkins, who lives in Macungie and teaches jazz at Lafayette College, has been doing this for a while, so the "age" bit isn't meant to impugn his earlier work, two fine CDs featuring flutist Jill Allen in (mostly) quartet settings. These laid some important groundwork for what is easily Wilkins' most impressive music, Vol. 1 ("Vol 2" is already recorded and due in the spring). He wrote and arranged all the tunes. More to the point, his quintet -- bassist Tony Marino, guitarist Tom Kozic, drummer Gary Rissmiller and tenor saxophonist Paul Kendall -- have played these pieces enough to feel comfortable with them, and, even on a first listen, that shows. This isn't head-solo-head jazz, and Wilkins' writing demands a lot from the players, but the listening isn't a challenge at all, which speaks volumes about the players' talents. Still, Wilkins' music has an edge; he's searching for, and more often than not finding, his own voice, which is really what jazz is all about. "Vol. 2" has a high standard to meet.

Tim Blangger - The Morning Call (Nov 18, 2006)


O's Notes: Skip plays piano and puts the heart and soul into each of the songs without dominating the stage. The warmth of Paul Kendall's sax brings romance to "Stephanie's Song", one of the nine Wilkins compositions. Tom Kozic (g) comes out blazing on "No Parking" and Tony Marino adds a bass solo on "Would Aldous Huxley...?" a swinger with Paul again playing a strong role. Bassist Tony Marino and Gary Rissmiller do more than anchor the beats. They provide accents and punch from the lower registers that give the music character. Collectively this is a fine set and we look forward to Volume II.

D. Oscar Groomes - O's Place Jazz Newsletter (Dec 16, 2006)


"A fun, frolicsome spirit pervades their swinging instrumentals. This album is extremely colorful, thanks to varied moods and Wilkins' variegated playing. "

Tom Schulte - Detroit Free Press


Bostonian Skip Wilkins wrote most of the tunes on Petty Theft, serving notice that he’s on his way to becoming an important jazz composer. His playing is hard-driving and both melodic and adventurous.

Mike Gladstone - 52nd Street Jazz (on-line magazine)


Usually jazz is either sweet or edgy, but seldom both. Wilkins, Allen and company have managed to achieve both moods, which is itself an achievement….Wilkins is an inventive, subtle pianist.

Tim Blangger - The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)


Skip (Wilkins) has some of the best hands/fingers you've ever heard on a keyboard. What my ears keep coming back to (even though the flute stands out) is Wilkins' keyboards! It's not just the mix, it's the CHOPS!

Dick Metcalf - Improvijazzation


Pianist Skip Wilkins and flutist Jill Allen’s Petty Theft is so cool, it’s bound to steal you away from the coldest winter blues. The Wilkins & Allen Quartet is joined by saxophonist David Liebman for this bright, sassy album of lyrical jazz that is a credit to their mentors, Herbie Hancock and Stan Getz.

Celia Sharpe - The Review


“…a musical picture of stunning beauty.”

Justin Arawjo - Pocono Record



“The CD is loaded with hard-charging riffs—a welcome mixture of energy and dexterity—honed with color, lyricism and originality.”

Curt Yeske - Trenton Times


“Wilkins and Allen manage to leave serious determination with a gentle and humorous treatment of both standards and originals, lending a playful insouciance to the album.”

Pete Pappalardo - Pocono Record


"Two Much Fun blends clean, classical chops with a swinging sensibility. Wilkins gives a colorful base for Allen, whose muscular pyrotechnics rise well above liftoff."

Karl Stark - Philadelphia Inquirer


“Whether with his own compositions, such as the blue-suede moodiness of ‘Numb,’ or standards such as ‘Smile,’ Wilkins’ playing is lyrical. There is a stateliness to his playing that is subtle without seeming mannered or austere."

Todd Dawson - Easton Express-Times


"To open their debut recording, “Other Things You Are” offers attractive contrapuntal harmonic variations of Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” to set the tone for an entertaining series of intimate piano/flute duos—music that exhibits a spirit of adventure."

David Lewis - Cadence


"Two Much Fun is just that. Both of you keep writing those great tunes."

Dave Brubeck

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