Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Mike Wofford: It's Personal

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Mike Wofford can boast decades of high-caliber sideman gigs: notably with vocalists Ella Fitzgerald (for whom he served as music director), Mel Torme and Sarah Vaughan, as well as drummer Shelly Manne, saxophonist Phil Woods, guitarist Joe Pass and others. His studio work is amply represented on records by a dizzying variety of artists. And his frequent collaborations with his wife, flutist Holly Hofmann, have been warmly received. Solo sets are not unknown in Wofford's lengthy discography but, on the evidence of the solo recital It's Personal, would be welcome with greater frequency.

In particular, Wofford's style is well-suited to the solo recital format, given his attentive rhythm and full harmonies, his chords lushly provided in the manner of pianist Oscar Peterson (Wofford's liner notes point to the influence of pianists Jimmy Rowles and Ellis Larkins). As a producer, it's clear that his focus in this record was on the loveliness of the melodic line.

Wofford's own compositions are among the strongest in this coherently organized set. The title tune, dedicated to Hofmann, exudes the kind of stately soul that is pianist Robert Glasper's stock-in-trade. His tributes to Cole Porter and Earl Hines evoke the spirt of their dedicatees.

The other material spans decades and styles with more than a little audacity. Perhaps the finest moment of the set is "The Eighth Veil," written by pianist Duke Ellington and his longtime arranger Billy Strayhorn. Wofford slows down the mid-tempo, vaguely Latin 1940s-vintage original to reveal an elegiac melody of surpassing beauty. Wofford's version of "No More," meanwhile, a balladic vehicle for Billie Holiday, is taken straight, and provides even more elegiac beauty . Bop-era numbers from alto saxophonists Jackie McLean and Gigi Gryce add dynamic variety.

The greatest delight of It's Personal is the medley of two songs called "Once in a Lifetime." Both are in fact quite well known, and neither is remotely part of the jazz standards book. The first was written by vocalist Anthony Newley (whose picture appears in the dictionary next to the entry for "mannered") and Leslie Bricusse for the 1961 musical Stop the World—I Want to Get Off; the second is the highlight of the Talking Heads' post-New Wave album Remain in Light (Sire, 1979). Separated by a scant 18 years, the songs inhabit vastly different esthetic worlds; Wofford gamely milks each for its abundant musical pleasures.

Track Listing: Little Melonae; It's Personal; Cole Porter; The Eighth Veil; Spin; I Waited For You; Springsville; Candle; Nica's Tempo; Hines Catch-up (for Earl Hines); Once in a Lifetime/Once in a Lifetime; No More.

Personnel: Mike Wofford: piano.

Title: It's Personal | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Capri Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
It's Personal

It's Personal

Capri Records
2013

buy
Turn Signal

Turn Signal

Capri Records
2011

buy
Live at Athenaeum Jazz

Live at Athenaeum Jazz

Unknown label
2005

buy
 

Time Cafe

Azica Records
2002

buy

Related Articles

Read Sheer Reckless Abandon Album Reviews
Sheer Reckless Abandon
By John Kelman
May 19, 2019
Read Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z Album Reviews
Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z
By Jack Bowers
May 19, 2019
Read To My Brothers Album Reviews
To My Brothers
By Victor L. Schermer
May 19, 2019
Read Social Music Album Reviews
Social Music
By Roger Farbey
May 19, 2019
Read Circle Inside The Folds Album Reviews
Circle Inside The Folds
By John Eyles
May 18, 2019
Read Momentum Album Reviews
Momentum
By Jerome Wilson
May 18, 2019
Read Bonsai Club Album Reviews
Bonsai Club
By Roger Farbey
May 18, 2019