Michael Wolff Trio: jazz, JAZZ, jazz (2007)
Pianist Michael Wolff has had a career that can best be described as eclectic. Along with serious jazz stints with Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins and Nancy Wilson, he's played with rocker Warren Zevon, explored world music, recorded an album as a vocalist and had a high-profile five-year gig as the bandleader on The Arsenio Hall Show. He currently produces and appears in a Nickelodeon series called The Naked Brothers Band, starring his two young sons.
But as the title suggests, jazz, JAZZ, jazz is all about jazz. It was recorded in 2001 with longtime trio mates John B. Williams (bass) and Victor Jones (drums), and a program of free-wheeling takes on a set of standards and jazz classics by the likes of Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter.
While the tunes are familiar, the group presents them in fresh, challenging versions. "Autumn Leaves and "My Funny Valentine are given barely recognizable, highly impressionistic treatments, with Wolff merely hinting at the themes with chords and brief runs of notes. His playing is more emphatic on "Solar and "Footprints, while "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise is a percussive tour de force. The entire session has a calm, unhurried air that gives all three trio members plenty of room to stretch out.
Together, Wolff and company show the kind of artistry that can result in a relaxed setting with no agenda, no pressurejust the goal of creating music.
Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; Solar; Con Alma; Cry Me A River; Dolphin Dance; Footprints; My Funny Valentine; Softly As A Morning Sunrise; Einbahnstrasse.
Personnel: Michael Wolff: piano; John B. Williams: bass; Victor Jones: drums.