Songs composed by Stevie Wonder have been part of jazz for years. But this is the first time I've come across a jazz album devoted entirely to the music of the Motown master of soul and related genre. Dave Pietro, lead sax with Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra, allots all the time on his 4th CD to Wonder compositions. Anyone who has listened to music on the radio for the last (almost) 40 years, will recognize some of these songs. Pietro has included such "all time hits" as the touching "All in Love Is Fair", "Too High" and "Overjoyed". Also included are a healthy number of not so familiar material. Irrespective of individual notoriety, Pietro has done some alterations to make them fit with his contemporary jazz playing style in a variety of rhythmic scenarios. Pietro's comprehension of "All in Love Is Fair" is miles apart from Mel Torme's 1977 rendition with Phil Woods and the Chris Grunning Orch. Here Pietro runs through a gamut of emotions from slow and inquiring, to biting and probing. It is a tribute to the strength of Wonder's music that it can withstand widely divergent interpretations and come through unscathed. This track features remarkable bass by Scott Colley, a first call bassist for musicians who dwell on the cutting edge of the music domain. Wonder's 1985 work, "Go Home" generally played as disco, is given a swinging ride with David Berkman's organ leading the way. One interesting facet on the CD is Pietro's use of the almost forgotten C-melody sax.
Those steeped in the music of Stevie Wonder can make their own judgement about Pietro's approach. At the same time, this CD may open the door to this music for those not in wonderment of Wonder. Interesting stuff and recommended. Visit Dave at www. davepietro.com.
Personnel: Dave Pietro - Soprano/Alto & C-melody Sax; Scott Wendholt - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Pete McGuinness - Trombone; Pete McCann - Guitar; David Berkman - Piano/ Organ/ Fender Rhodes; Scott Colley - Bass; Brian Blade - Drums