Mike Wofford played for fifteen years at the Athenaeum jazz concert series in San Diego, right from its initiation in 1989. Came the time to release its first recording and the spotlight, appropriately enough, shone on Wofford. He set his sights on New York and beckoned Peter Washington and Victor Lewis to join him.
The trio setting offers a snug home for jazz and if the musicians have empathy, they can raise a song to a high level through communication and artistry. These three work beautifully together and, in doing so, structure each song with a sense of adventure and musicality. The standards are injected with a shot of new blood and even Sting, who once aspired to play jazz, has one of his songs "It's Probably Me" turned into an inspiring listening experience. Lewis sets it up with an energetic and rhythmically adventurous drum solo, the tone taken in another direction by Wofford, who gets the melody to sing luminously as he crafts the transformation of pop into jazz with authority. Lewis contributed "Dex-Mex," on which he twirls a sprightly rhythm, Wofford sneaking into the spaces and then engaging in dialogue with Lewis. This one is all the more fun as the trio rides it out meshed in a romping groove.
Wofford's ideas swell and fall in a neat pattern. Excess? The word is not in his vocabulary. One could see that on any of the tracks, but the medley offers probably the best vantage point. He goes solo on "Lucky To Be Me," delineating the tune with sensitivity, a gentle emergence that basks in the warmth of his ministrations, and then up jumps "I'm Just A Lucky So And So," sparkling and irresistible, the leader and his men seeped in a radiant vitality.
Listen. Have fun.
Personnel: Mike Wofford: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Victor Lewis: drums.