Jazz ensembles led by drummers rarely gain the prominence they perhaps deserve, the outstanding exception being Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Craig Wuepper works hard to change that perception on his maiden album as leader. There are four his works on the program and they are where Wuepper especially displays his considerable drumming talent. Although he cites the likes of Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones among his influences, he is less noisy and intrusive than these two major modern drummers. While expressive, listen to his quirky solo on "The Best Thing for You", where he stays calm and steadfast in his approach to the skins and cymbals. He's not a banger.
For his first trip to the studio, Wuepper has engaged the services of some young lions of jazz (some of whose manes are getting a little longer). With a generous 72 minutes of playing time allotted by Double Time, each has plenty of time to stretch out. One of the more intriguing offerings is "Fried Pies" that has as its dominant themes a bagpipe's rhum, rhum, rhum one hears in a Scottish march against which Wuepper drives his drums. The tenor of Eric Alexander, the alto of Mike Dirubbo, along with Ryan Kisor on trumpet are a swinging front line. Any album on which the piano of Mike LeDonne appears is by definition made better.
This is solid, strong bop and post bop and is recommended.
Personnel: Craig Wuepper - Drums; Eric Alexander - Tenor Saxophone; Mike Dirubbo-Alto Sax*; Ryan Kisor# - Trumpet; Mike LeDonne - Piano; John Webber - Bass