Warren Wolf: The Wizard of Vibes
Warfield apparently bragged about Wolf to others, including pianist Mulgrew Miller. Miller "gave me a call the next day after Tim called. He gave me a chance to go to Japan. We did a two-week tour of Japan with his group Wingspan. I was subbing for Steve Nelson. He's always been very supportive of not just me but younger musicians, giving us a chance to play and work our stuff out. Also, he's come to work with me. I've called him to do a couple guest appearances when I was working at Berklee. He's come to Baltimore to play with me. He's done so much for me, I can't even describe it. Tremendous cat," Wolf says.
Bobby Watson was also among those to hear about Wolf's talent, and hired him sight unseen in his touring band, for a time. Playing with the young, talented singer Rachael Price helped keep Wolf busy as well, with recording and touring. He's played with the Donal Fox Group and has performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Pelt, Nicholas Payton, Aaron Goldberg, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding and others. He also occupied himself with his self-produced records, as well as the pair that was produced in Japan.
His efforts of late, especially after the 2011 Mack Avenue release, involve getting his own band out there, playing his music. In 2011, he did all of the pushing and promoting, but he's been developing a team to take that on and hopes it will gel in 2012. "I do realize it's a slow process. I do realize it takes patience. I can't expect to just jump over everybody else and be on top of the world," he says. "But everybody who's big right now were in my shoes at some point. It will come. ... I'm in the right position. My foot is in the door, being a leader. It just takes some time to blossom."
Wolf is pleased with where he stands, especially what he calls "the ultimate sideman job, in my eyes, with Christian McBride." He notes there may be another Inside Straight recording in 2012 that should lead to more touring. Meanwhile, he's also playing in a band with pianist Aaron Diehl. And with Diehl, he also performs some of the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet. So his docket looks full, a good thing in today's economy. And while he likes many styles of music, the pull of jazz is strong and it is the focal point of his career.
"For me, it's all about the freedom of it," says Wolf." "You're not restricted. That's what it is for me. You get to compose. You get to do your own compositions, but then again you get to turn them around and play them differently, any time you want to. Jazz is all about freedom to me."
Warren Wolf, Warren Wolf (Mack Avenue, 2011)
Christian McBride & Inside Straight Kind of Brown (Mack Avenue, 2009)
Warren Wolf, Black Wolf (M&I Japan, 2009)
Bobby Watson, From the Heart (Palmetto, 2008)
Warren Wolf, Warren "Chano Pozo" Wolf (Self-produced, 2008)
Warren Wolf, Raw (Self-produced, 2005)
Warren Wolf, Incredible Jazz Vibes (M&I Japan, 2005)
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All Other Photos: Courtesy of Warren Wolf