3

Mike Wofford: It's Personal

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Mike Wofford: It's Personal
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.

Album information

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

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins
Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.