Warren Wolf is a beast. The incredible hulk with mallets and the new voice for jazz vibraphone!
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Following up a critically acclaimed debut release is no easy task, unless you are Warren Wolf. Perhaps the key to success outside of the amazing artistry and lyrical precision with which Wolf does his melodic exploratory is the use of two different three man rhythm sections on his latest offering, Wolfgang.
The first rhythm section boasts pianist Benny Green, bassist Christian McBride and in the pocket drummer Lewis Nash. The second three man rhythm section includes piano phenom Aaron Goldberg, bassist Kris Funn and drummer Billy Williams Jr. Now if you toss in two righteous duos banged out by Wolf and up and coming pianist Aaron Diehl you have the makings of a release that is seemingly built around the elusive concept of ebb and flow and not pieces of a melodic jigsaw puzzle that never quite seem to fit.
Wolf does dial back his approach with his own compositions moving front and center. Six original compositions that bring back melody. You do remember melody, long locked away in the jazz witness protection program we find Wolf unlocking and tapping into his lyrical soul for a more textured ambient feel while never losing sight of his straight ahead sense of purpose. "Grand Central" is a Wolf original and a high octane smoker. Another stellar Wolf tune is the uptempo "Lake Nerraw Flow" which again captures a true three dimensional lyrical depth of field. The somewhat eclectic if totally unexpected cover of "Frankie and Johnny" has Wolf with his calling card of melodic panache, that special something not heard since the early days of label mate Gary Burton.
Long story short, Warren Wolf avoids the sophomore slump and bangs out one of the most entertaining releases Mack Avenue has for the year. A true winner!
Tracks: Sunrise; Frankie and Johnny; Grand Central; Wolfgang; Annoyance; Lake Nerraw Flow; Things Were Done Yesterday; Setembro; Le Carnaval de Venise.
Personnel: Warren Wolf: Vibes, Marimba (9); Benny Green: piano (2,5,7); Christian McBride: Bass (2,5,7); Lewis Nash: Drums (2,5,7); Aaron Goldberg: Piano (1,3,6,8); Kris Funn: Bass (1,3,6,8); Aaron Diehl: Piano (4,9); Darryl Tookes: Vocals (8).