On the strength of his membership in ensembles led by Christian McBride and Aaron Diehl and his own auspicious Mack Avenue debut in 2011, Warren Wolf appears on a path to stardom as arguably the most exciting bop vibraphonist since Bobby Hutcherson. For Wolfgang, his followup collection on Mack Avenue, Wolf said he wanted to showcase his writing skills and provide more melodies that people can remember. For precisely those reasons, Wolfgang suffers by comparison with his previous work.
Prominent jazz vibraphonists have always been relatively few and Warren Wolf has the potential to be one of the top players of his generation. Wolf is joined by bassist Christian McBride, pianist Peter Martin, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, with guest appearances by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Tim Green. Wolf is a master of lyricism and restraint with his spacious interpretation of Johnny Mandel's timeless ballad "Emily." He doubles on vibes and marimba in an intricate interpretation of Chick Corea's "Señor Mouse." Six of the songs are originals by the leader. The composer takes a back seat in the sensual "Natural Beauties," showcasing Martin and Green (the latter on soprano sax) first before adding his dazzling solo.
The reference to some exquisitely dressed man in the title of this release also conveys the stylistic bent of pianist Aaron Diehl's noteworthy debut on Mack Avenue. He is among a list of rising jazz pianists which include Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks. The recording brings to life a project that was conceived in Indianapolis after Diehl, 26, earned first place in American Pianists Association's 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship.
For years, I have known a certain truth– don't sleep on Warren Wolf. the master vibraphonist has snuck up on me one too many times on releases of his own. He rolled through San Antonio three times in 2015 and never failed to impress. His work with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah's large ensemble is a surprise and not a surprise at the same time. He has maintained a beautiful melodicism in his playing that would seem obvious for his instrument but he surpasses such expectations again and again. He's an unmistakable talent. He shouldn't be slept on. This is no more apparent than in his latest album, Convergence on Mack Avenue.
Steve Cole has five CD's in his catalog and has previously recorded for Atlantic, Warner Bros and Narada Jazz. Recently Steve signed a multiple album deal with Mack Avenue/Artistry Music. The first project for the label entitled Moonlight is a collection of classic pop songs and standards set amidst an orchestral backdrop.
Thirty-five years old and still going strong, The Yellowjackets aren’t letting a little matter like the third bass player in as many albums break their stride. One of the top quality electric jazz bands over these three and half decades now welcomes its newest bass virtuoso in Australian Dane Alderson just in time for their latest release Cohearence. Still comprising of Bob Mintzer on reeds, Will Kennedy on drums and sole remaining founding member Russell Ferrante on keys, the Yellowjackets retain plenty enough heritage to still be very much the Yellowjackets, enough that the ever-changing bass chair hadn’t prevented the band from reeling off a string of consistently strong long players at a time when most long-running concerns are winding down. Cohearence continues that winning streak.