Tony Wilson 6tet

Pearls Before Swine (Drip Audio)

The final track on Box Cutter’s New Rules for Noise, reviewed above, is called “W.W.T.W.D.”, and I’m pretty sure the “T.W.” in the title is a reference to Gordon Grdina’s friend and fellow guitarist Tony Wilson, a shadowy but inspirational presence on the B.C. jazz scene for the past two decades. That the tune is a woozy country stumble offers a pretty good clue, but as his own new disc illustrates, Wilson is capable of a lot more than just warped variations on rootsy themes.

In fact, one of the defining qualities of Pearls Before Swine is its wildly eclectic nature. In addition to seven Wilson originals, we’re treated to stomping arrangements of the Beatles’ classic “I Am the Walrus” and Canadian jazz legend Freddie Stone’s “Ee-Gypt-Me”, plus a Bakersfield-inflected take on Thelonious Monk’s “Hornin’ In”.

Remarkably, all of this music sounds exactly like Tony Wilson: heartfelt, mercurial, and inspired. An all-star cast of Vancouver’s younger improvisers—including saxophonist Masa Anzai, trumpeter JP Carter, and violinist Jesse Zubot—joins in on what is, so far, the finest recording of Wilson’s career.

The Tony Wilson 6tet plays the Ironworks next Thursday (June 26), while a different Wilson configuration, the Sextet, plays a free Canada Day show at Performance Works on July 1.