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Michael Wolff & Mike Clark: Wolff & Clark Expedition (2013)

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Michael Wolff & Mike Clark: Wolff & Clark Expedition How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This jazz piano trio date by world-class musicians is all about the groove. Drummer Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark
b.1946
drums
, revered for his slippery jazz-funk beats, hearkening back to this tenure with Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
's Headhunters, is touted as one of the most sampled drummers of the digital age. However, he is first and foremost a jazz drummer, as his resume includes stints with a list of greats too lengthy in scope to cite here. Teaming with fellow jazz giant pianist, Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff
b.1952
keyboard
and first-call session ace bassist Chip Jackson, the trio generates a spunky set, awash with soul-jazz inflected overtones amid driving R&B, swing and bop frameworks via a democratic engagement, augmented with brute force and artful dynamics.

The band kicks off the festivities with an up-tempo spin on The Beatles' "Come Together," as Clark puts his own stamp on Ringo Starr's infamous tom-tom patterns —serving as a catalyst here and throughout. Wolff, a onetime member of sax great Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
's band , gives "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" a funky makeover, solidified by Jackson's booming bass parts. Indeed, it becomes easily apparent that the band is having fun along the way.

The musicians use space as a vantage point during many of the open-air like improvisational sprees. They impart counterpoint, and gel to a throng of call and response dialogues. And on "Flat Out," the trio teeters on the free-jazz schema with a loose demeanor. But Clark dances across his hi-hat and snare drum while dishing out a complex rhythmic fabrication on "Is There a Jackson in the House," where Wolff's rippling harmonics and reverse engineering mechanisms deftly contrast Latin-jazz vamps and rock beats. But they temper the pitch and close it out with a sequence of airy and nimbly devised choruses. Other than the anticipated high-level of musicianship, the trio broadcasts a convivial aura during the course of these alluringly, revved-up musical proceedings.

Track Listing: Come Together; What Is This Thing Called Love?; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; ARP; Flat Out; Song For My Father; Is There a Jackson in the House?; Hummin’; For the Love of Money; Elise.

Personnel: Michael Wolff: piano; Mike Clark: drums; Chip Jackson: acoustic bass.

Record Label: Random Act Records


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