Warren Wolf – Warren Wolf – Mack Avenue Records MAC 1059, 60:31 ****:
(Warren Wolf – vibraphone; Peter Martin – piano 2/3/4/5/7/8/9/10/ -Fender Rhodes 1; Christian McBride – bass 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/9; Gregory Hutchinson – drums 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/9; Jeremy Pelt – trumpet 1/3; Tim Green – alto sax 1/3/5/8/9 – soprano sax 2)
Warren Wolf, with the release of his self-titled debut album for Mack Avenue Records, gives notice that he is a vibraphonist to be reckoned with, and is ready for prime time in the jazz world.
Surrounding himself with top notch musicians, and to some degree under the mentorship of Christian McBride, Wolf easily demonstrates the combination of expression and brawny attack that so identifies his Milt Jackson influenced sound. Among the ten tracks, the album contains six compositions by Wolf starting off with “427 Mass Ave” which is an upbeat blues, offering some interesting interplay between Pelt and Green, as well as the leader’s emotional presentation. An expressive “Natural Beauties” brings Martin and Green to the forefront, before Wolf amazes with his contribution.
While the vibraphone has been around more or less in its current construction since the mid-1920s, it has never been a natural instrument of choice for young musicians. It was Milt Jackson’s stylish re-interpretation of its sound that raised the bar for jazz vibists. Wolf has picked up on this technique and has presented the Johnny Mandel composition “Emily” with the appropriate emotion and control. Not wanting to forget his bop leanings, Wolf and the sextet dive into “Sweet Bread” and leave no stone unturned. With Mc Bride leading the way “One For Lenny” takes off at a pace that seems unsustainable, but that does not deter Martin and Green from delivering compelling solos before turning the theme back to Wolf.
There are probably fewer than a dozen influential vibraphonists in today’s jazz scene, but it seems certain that Warren Wolf’s name will be added to that list in short order.
TrackList: 427 Mass Ave.; Natural Beauties; Sweet Bread; How I Feel At This Given Moment; Eva; Senor Mouse; Emily; Katrina; One For Lenny; Intimate Dance.
A 10-year anniversary of Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society gets a welcome vinyl upgrade.