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Bill Warfield: For Lew

Jack Bowers By

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The "Lew" referred to on Renaissance man Bill Warfield's latest big-band album, For Lew, is the late trumpeter Lew Soloff, whom Warfield remembers in the liner notes as "my mentor, colleague, friend and inspiration." The inspiration arrived when the teen-age Warfield, who had switched from trumpet to piano after losing his front teeth in an auto accident, heard Soloff's memorable solo on "Spinning Wheel" by the group Blood, Sweat & Tears. "I decided at that point," Warfield writes, "that I wanted to play trumpet again."

And so he has for more than four decades while also building a notable career as a composer, arranger, bandleader and educator. For Lew embodies a dozen selections, five written by Warfield and all but two previously issued on albums spanning the years 1990-2014. Soloff, who played and recorded with his pal Warfield's band on a number of occasions, is in the section on four—from the 1994 album The City Never Sleeps —and is showcased on one, Jeff Fuller's saucy "Salsa en mi Alma," the only number on the anthology that was not arranged by Warfield.

Whatever the lineup, Warfield has always presided over first-class ensembles, an assessment that is evident throughout this splendid album. Warfield enthusiasts may have acquired or at least heard much of the material here, which, besides The City Never Sleeps, (Sea Breeze Jazz, 1992) has been culled from New York City Jazz (1990), A Faceless Place (2005) and Trumpet Story (2014). The "factory-new" tracks are John Coltrane's high-spirited "Some Other Blues" and Yip Harburg / Burton Lane's standard "Old Devil Moon," both from the unreleased album of that name. Warfield wrote the bustling "Street Corner Market," irrepressible "Scootzie," rhythmically dazzling "Tentigo," funky "Circus Music" (featuring tenor Chris Potter) and frisky finale, "When Janie Takes the Stand." Rounding out the well-designed program are Lee Morgan's "Totem Pole," Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way," Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" and Wayne Shorter's "The Three Marias" (the only track without solos).

Soloff's nimble statement on "Salsa en mi Alma" is a highlight but by no means the only one. Warfield frames impressive solos on "Totem Pole," "Some Other Blues" and (muted) "Porkpie Hat." Others who raise their eloquent voices include tenors Walt Weiskopf, Bob Hanlon and Rich Perry; altos Andy Fusco and Dan Block, trumpeters John Eckert and Randy Brecker, baritone Tom Olin, trombonist Matt Haviland, guitarist Vic Juris, pianist Joel Weiskopf, bassist Mike Richmond and drummers Bob Weller and Tim Horner.

Although, as noted, most of these numbers have been accessible in previous incarnations, it's good to have them on the same page, especially as an homage to Lew Soloff who no doubt would have approved and been honored by his friend's thoughtfulness. Tribute aside, it's a well-drawn sketch of the Warfield band's proficiency and panache.

Track Listing: Old Devil Moon; Totem Pole; Street Corner Supermarket; In Your Own Sweet Way; Scootzie; Tentigo; Some Other Blues; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Salsa en Mi Alma; A Little Circus Music; The Three Marias; When Janie Takes the Stand.

Personnel: Bill Warfield: composer, arranger, trumpet; Tracks 1, 7 — Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Jon Owens: trumpet; Dave Ballou: trumpet; John Eckert: trumpet; Andy Fusco: alto sax; Walt Weiskopf: tenor sax; Bob Hanlon: tenor sax; Alex Stewart: baritone sax; Tim Sessions: trombone; Jeff Nelson: bass trombone; Joel Weiskopf: piano; Dave Stryker: guitar; Lynn Seaton: bass; Grisha Alexiev: drums. Tracks 2-5 — Earl Gardner: trumpet; Joe Mosello: trumpet; Jeff Parke: trumpet; Jerry Sokolov: trumpet; Andy Fusco: alto sax; Dan Block: alto sax; Rich Perry: tenor sax; Bob Hanlon: tenor sax; Tom Olin: baritone sax; Matt Havilan: trombone; Dan Levine: bass trombone; Doug Purviance: bass trombone; Ted Rosenthal: piano; Mike Richmond: bass; Bob Weller: drums; Dan Sadownick: percussion. Tracks 6, 8, 9, 10 — Bob Millikan: trumpet; Lew Soloff: trumpet; Jeff Parke: trumpet; John Eckert: trumpet; Andy Fusco: alto sax; Walt Weiskopf: alto sax; Bob Hanlon: tenor sax; Chris Potter: tenor sax; Tom Olin: baritone sax; Herb Besson: trombone; Conrad Herwig: trombone; Larry Farrell: trombone; Matt Finders: bass trombone; Greg Cogan: piano; Chris Rosenberg: guitar; Mike Richmond: bass; Tim Horner: drums. Track 11 — Jon Owens: trumpet; Dave Trigg: trumpet; Joe Mosello: trumpet; Ed Xiques: alto sax; Dave Riekenberg: tenor sax; Mike Migliore: tenor sax; Sam Bortka: baritone sax; Tim Sessions: trombone; Mike Christiansen: bass trombone; Roberta Piket: piano; Vic Juris: guitar; Tom Hubbard: bass; Scott Neumann: drums. Track 12 — Jon Owens: trumpet; Bud Burridge: trumpet; Colin Brigstocke: trumpet; Darryl Shaw: trumpet; Mike Migliore: alto sax; Dave Riekenberg: tenor sax; Mark Phaneuf: tenor sax; Matt Hong: baritone sax; Tim Sessions: trombone; Charlie Gordon: trombone; Sam Burtis: bass trombone; Art Hirahara: piano; Vic Juris: guitar; Gene Perla: bass; Scott Neumann: drums; spontaneous group vocal: the band.

Title: For Lew | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Planet Arts Records

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