Ben Wolfe: My Kinda Beautiful (2004)
What do you have when you make a soundtrack recording that has no film? Is it a concerto? Maybe. But in these days of digital downloads and ADD (or is it DHTV?) we sometimes forget about the concept of an entire album of music. Remember that Ellington made them, and so did Coltrane. Bassist Ben Wolfe also reminds us that Charles Mingus did too.
My Kinda Beautiful is an entire album of music written as a whole thought. Like Wolfe's previous disc, Murray's Cadillac, it is easy to believe the music was created as a soundtrack. Indeed, it brings Bill Lee's writing for Do The Right Thing to mind.
Wolfe is a throwback, playing unamplified gut-string double bass for a fuller presence throughout. His writing for eight jazz musicians and eight classical players steers you inside and out of a jazz/chamber mix. He orchestrates the strings not as a sugar coating, but a direct response to the jazz octet. It's West Side Story meets "The Haitian Fight Song."
Wolfe is joined by saxophonist Ned Goold, everyone's rising star, and the outstanding trombonist Jeff Uusitalo. He chooses small moments like the simple piano opening by Steve Christofferson on "The Doctor In December" to offer a gentle evening's worth of sound. As the strings flow in, you can paint your own picture of repose. Later, on the classical piece "Death," the strings back piano and bass for a melancholy chamber reflection. Wolfe can write for many emotions, following up with the bouncy "Americano" and the wide vistas of the title track.
Wolfe answers the question of what a soundtrack recording without a movie is: it's a film series you can play inside your own head.
Track Listing: Intro; Through And Through; The Doctor In December; Interlude (Who's Blues); Americano; My Kinda Beautiful; F Minor (The Drive); String Quartet; Tune For T; Interlude (Bass); Stone; Wild West; You, Me, Them; Interlude (The Poet); Death; Three Like; The Many And The One; Americano; Outro.
Personnel: Ben Wolfe - Bass; Ron Steen - Drums; Steve christofferson - Piano; Ned Goold - Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone; Paul Mazio - Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Jeff Uusitalo - Trombone; Stan Bock - Trombone; Dave Bryant - Trombone; Margaret Bichetler - Violin (Concertmaster); Janet Dubay - Violin; Janet George - Violin; Shauna Keys - Viola; Brenda Liu - Viola; Pansy Chang - Cello; Dieter Ratzlaf - Cello; Phil Hanson - Cello.