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Warren Wolf: Convergence

Mark F. Turner By

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The paucity of jazz vibraphonists may be due in part to the complexity of mastering an instrument that's like a hybrid of drums, percussion and piano. Notwithstanding, one of the instrument's brightest stars is 36 year old Baltimore native Warren Wolf, a rising virtuoso whose form and technical abilities continue the lineage of great vibe players such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson and Stefon Harris.

Convergence is outstanding and features Wolf's superb trio with longtime mentor bassist Christian McBride and the dynamic drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts in a diverse mix up-tempo, ballad, and swing compositions. The icing on the cake comes in the guest appearance of jazz luminaries guitarist John Scofield on the funky boogaloo "Soul Sisters" and pianist Brad Mehldau's spacious delivery in the tone poem "Four Stars from Heaven" both which are two of the recordings many highlights.

The cover of late Bobby Hutcherson's "Montara" may be album's most memorable track with a chilled theme that recalls yet another pioneer vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Its motif is simple perfection: a threaded ostinato where Wolf lays down a soulful soliloquy on marimba while McBride and Watts go deep into the rhythmic pocket. It's a fitting ode to the great legacy of Hutcherson who passed on August 15, 2016.

Wolf's appreciation of the history, his suave control, sensitive touch and fierce percussive skills are not the only qualities which resonate. He's also serving up new memories of timeless gem in poignant covers of Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Stardust / The Minute Waltz" which uniquely combines Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" with Chopin's "The Minute Waltz." Wolf does it all brilliantly.

Track Listing: Soul Sisters; Four Stars From Heaven; King Of Two Fives; New Beginning; Cell Phone; Montara; Havoc; Tergiversation; Knocks Me Off My Feet; A Prayer For The Christian Man; Stardust / The Minute Waltz.

Personnel: Warren Wolf: vibes, marimba (5, 6, 9, 10, 11), Fender Rhodes (2, 9), piano (9); Christian McBride: bass (1-3, 5-10); Brad Mehldau: piano (1, 2, 4, 5, 7); John Scofield (1, 7); Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums (1, 2, 5-10).

Title: Convergence | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

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