The piano, Mike Wofford writes, is an “instrument of endless possibilities,” many of which are brought to light on his first album for Azica Records. Wofford certainly is qualified to advance such an idea, having played piano for almost forty years with a veritable who’s who of celebrated Jazz artists including Shelly Manne, Chet Baker, Bud Shank, Shorty Rogers, Mel Tormé, Joe Pass, Gary Burton, Lee Konitz, Sarah Vaughan, Lockjaw Davis, Zoot Sims, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Kenny Burrell, Art Farmer, Benny Golson and Charlie Haden, to name only some. He brings that wide experience to bear on these emphatic interpretations of standards and originals performed either unaccompanied (four selections) or with bassist “Oles” Oleskiewicz and drummer Duncan Moore. While he is a competent balladeer, Wofford seems most at home when exuberantly swinging, as he does without pause on Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane,” Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” “You and the Night and the Music” and elsewhere. His supple right–hand runs are counterbalanced by muscular chordal lines, as on “My Heart Stood Still,” “You Go to My Head” and “Time on My Hands,” with “Night and the Music,” played solo, a refreshing combination of the two. Wofford’s other a cappella
numbers are “Time on My Hands,” “Just One of Those Things” and Don Grolnick’s “Cost of Living.” Even though he’s in good form on each of them, I prefer the trio, as it lends flavor and seasoning to the recipe. Besides keeping flawless time, bassist Oleskiewicz wrote the lovely ballad “Precious Moments“ and the album’s sunny title song. Completing the program are Wofford’s high–spirited “H2,” Tim McMahon’s ballad, “Cyprus,” and Les McCann’s waltz, “A Little 3/4.” A delectable taste of piano–trio Jazz garnished with splendid sound and generous 74:37 playing time.
Contact:Azica Records, 1645 Eddy Road, Cleveland, OH 44112. Phone 888–349–3310. Web site, www.azica.com