Flutology: First Date (2003)
This well programmed and well recorded studio set opens with an energetic workout on Charlie Parker's "Be Bop," a lovingly lyrical cover of Lee Morgan's "Ceora" with a shining solo by Hofman, a perky cover of Hank Mobley's "This I Dig of You," plus a handful of Wess originals, including the aptly titled "Pretty Is." The distinct personalities of the flutists shine through since there's an overwhelming sense of non-competitiveness among the players, each taking generous solos.
Also uniting them is a love of a warm and smooth tone rooted in classical flute. They connect to the Hubert Laws/James Newton camp, avoiding the highly vocalized flute tone established by Roland Kirk and Yusef Lateef. For far too many decades the flute, let alone the flute ensemble, has held a marginalized position in jazz. What Howard Johnson's band Gravity did to redeem the unjustly marginalized tuba, Flutology promised to do for the flute.
Even more significantly, I have rarely heard a band with a three musician front line in recent years with so many creative ideas that seamlessly mesh. This is simply a great mainstream jazz album of 2003 by any standard, and the fact that it showcases flutes makes it that much more singular and breathtaking.
Track Listing: 1. Be Bop, 2. Ceora, 3. Sump' Went Wrong, 4. Rainesville, 5. This I Dig of You, 6. Pretty Is, 7. Equal Parts, 8. A Child is Borm, 9. Flutopia.
Personnel: Frank Wess, Holly Hofman, Ali Ryerson, Mike Wofford, Peter Washington, Ben Riley.