Far more than the reharmonized recital approach to solo piano, Mike Wofford hits on both the visceral and cerebral levels while embracing tunes that are uniquely personal to him.
Solo piano recordings can be sonic equivalent of tap dancing in a mine field shortly after happy hour. For some artists the solo recording is feast or famine. Mike Wofford scores incredibly well by taking that more personal approach for a connectivity to tunes that range from Duke Ellington to the Talking Heads. Along the way Wofford sprinkles in some original compositions that are loaded with the right amount of panache that sandwiched in between tunes such as "Little Melonae" from Jackie McClean and "The Eighth Veil" from Billy Strayhorn there is no denying a perfect fit. Granted taste is subject but a shared perspective on the blatantly obvious transcends arbitrary editorial guidelines as well as the Woodford riff on the Talking Heads classic, "Once In A Lifetime."
Wofford has a driving rhythmic intensity to his playing. For those unfamiliar with Mike Wofford, a fair comparison might be a hybrid of the intensity of a McCoy Tyner coupled with the lyrical flow of a Herbie Hancock. Wofford pulls from the slightly more contemporary with a Larry Koonse tune, "Candle." The musical resume brought to the table here finds names such as Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson and Stan Getz as just a handful of some of the luminaries that Wofford has shared a stage with.
Whatever happened to melody? With so many pianists taking a pretentious if not incredibly self absorbed look at reharming a classic tune till they have mangled a melody beyond all reasonable recognition, Wofford's wheelhouse is steeped in style and elegance while still making each tune uniquely his if only for a brief moment in time. Wofford pulls off a warm organic set from a slightly eclectic straight ahead set list while remaining surprisingly accessible. Anyone with the ability to do a riff on the Talking Heads given the obvious limitations of the solo piano format starts with 4 stars out of the box but ends up with: