It’s always a kick to discover a musician who has flown a little below the radar, although in all fairness to artists everywhere I should admit that my particular radar unit is not always reliable. In fact, I would have been right at home as part of the crew watching over Pearl Harbor.
But putting that aside — and it’s about time — let’s talk about Bill Wimmer and his new album, Project Omaha. Like many self-produced efforts, it’s immediately apparent that we’re being offered a labor of love, not only in the choice of music but also in the guys behind him. Saxophonist Wimmer has enlisted some friends to help present his vision, and there’s a lot of talent involved, including Dave Stryker on guitar, Tony Gulizia on keyboards (and vocals), his brother Joey Gulizia on percussion, drummer Victor Lewis, and bassist Mark Luebbe.
Wimmer has also given some thought to crafting an intriguing collection for the album, again with some help from his friends. Tony Guliza was an especially strong influence, as was Stryker, who even contributed one of his own compositions to the mix.
That song, “Carnaval,” features a blazing solo from Stryker and is one of the best tracks on the album, which includes tunes from a variety of different influences. Others with Latin rhythms include a Jobim medley, “Dreamer/Felicidade,” and “Soy Califa,” a Dexter Gordon composition given a nice treatment with Wimmer and Stryker taking turns in the spotlight.
A track with an entirely different sound is the marvelous “Geo Rose,” a silky smooth song that allows Wimmer to show off his soaring soprano sax, again working well with Stryker’s guitar. It was probably my favorite here.
Mention should also be made of Tony Guliza’s vocals on several tracks, including “Cherry Red,” “She Was Too Good to Me,” and “I Thought About You.” The keyboardist’s husky voice does add another dimension to the album, but to me the best parts of this album are still the instrumentals.