Mike Wofford Trio: Live At Athenaeum Jazz (2004)
Athenaeum Jazz represents a series of concerts over the past fifteen years at the Music & Arts Library of La Jolla. Wofford has appeared there many times, but usually in the company of groups led by Art Farmer, Bud Shank, Lee Konitz and others. This album is the first Athenaeum concert to be recorded. For this occasion, the pianist chose some highly regarded East Coast pals for his rhythm section: in-demand bassist Peter Washington and veteran drummer Victor Lewis.
Mike Wofford has a great affinity for the Great American Songbook, which accounts for about half of this album. He opens with an unusual handling of "My Old Flame" in a 5/4 setting. Later we're treated to what pianist Dave McKenna might call a "Lucky" medley, which begins with a lyrical ballad version of Bernstein's "Lucky To Be Me," then segues into the Ellington classic "I'm Just A Lucky So And So," which is delivered as a delightful romp.
My favorite moment on the album is Wofford's eight-minute version of Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing For You," which jumps out of the speakers with vitality. Throughout the album, Wofford shows a strong ability to burst loose with a creative right hand as well as playing in a reflective manner in ballad settings. These numbers are enhanced by the presence of Washington and Lewis. The drummer gets a good opportunity to excel on his own composition "Dex-Mex," a tribute to Dexter Gordon. All hands work hard to make a success of the Duke Ellington flagwaver "Take The Coltrane," which was written for the joint Ellington-Coltrane session in the early '60s.
Track Listing: My Old Flame, Take the Coltrane, Macedonia, Dex-Mex, Medley: Lucky To Be Me/I'm Just A Lucky So And So, It's Probably Me, The Best Thing For You.
Personnel: Mike Wofford, piano; Peter Washington, bass; Victor Lewis, drums.