Sunday, September 08, 2013

Warren Wolf - Wolfgang (Mack Avenue, 2013)

Warren Wolf is a vibraphone player from Baltimore, and he has made quite a splash on the mainstream jazz scene lately playing with the likes of Christian McBride and Aaron Diehl. His is at the forefront of two different trios on this recording, backed by either a veteran unit of Benny Green on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash on drums or an up and coming group consisting of Aaron Goldberg on piano, Kris Funn on bass and Billy Williams, Jr. on drums. Aaron Diehl also sits in on a couple of duets. The play admirable modern hard bop, and without a horn in the group, the lions share of the attention is on the leader. He responds quite well, playing with drive and passion throughout. “Wolfgang” the title track is calm and placid as a ballad, with Wolf’s vibes drifting across the musical landscape. I found “Grand Central” to be at the heart of the album, swinging hard and finding the group playing with a confident sense of joy and vigor. “Lake Nerraw Flow” is another uptempo performance and the band really revels in the speed and authority at which they can play. “Sunrise,” the leadoff track of the album is fine as well, with the band taking the long road, beginning with a stately mid-tempo and developing the music patiently and thoughtfully faster and faster until concluding with a dynamic flourish. They play some other tracks that I didn’t like quite as much like the waltz “Le Carnaval de Venise,” and the song “Annoyance” which has wordless vocals. But on the whole, this was a very solid album which should appeal to mainstream jazz fans. Wolfgang -

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