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Mike Wofford Trio Live at Athenaeum Jazz Capri 2004
Pianist Mike Wofford's trio allows this in demand vocal accompanist and arranger to stretch out and lead the way with a swinging rhythm section that includes master drummer Victor Lewis and top NYC bassist Peter Washington. Live at Athenaeum Jazz captures this unit going through their paces at a San Diego concert while Minor Miracle has them taking a supporting role to Wofford's significant other, world class flutist Holly Hofmann.
Opening their concert program with a relaxing 5/4 take on the standard "My Old Flame", the trio then dramatically picks up the tempo with a pumping version of Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane" that has Washington contributing a harmonically appealing extended bass solo. Washington is again featured on an enticing "Macedonia" as Wofford's economical style convinces that less is more while the Lewis composition, "Dex-Mex" pays homage to tenor great Dexter Gordon with flurries of intricate tapped out cymbal and tom rhythms. Wofford hits stride on an interesting medley that pairs Leonard Bernstein's "Lucky to be Me" with Ellington's "I'm Just a Lucky So and So". Bernstein's Broadway ballad is given a touching solo interpretation that moves into an up tempo swinging account of Duke's bluesy piece. Lewis drums an expanded intro to Sting's "It's Probably Me" that benefits from Wofford's economy as things are brought to a close with a strong version of Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing for You" in which both Wofford and Washington view the catchy melody from all sides.
Holly Hofmann Quartet Minor Miracle Capri 2004
With the addition of flutist Holly Hofmann as leader, the trio easily adapts to an eclectic studio session divided into four sections. "CRS-CRAFT" and "Everything I Love" comprise a tribute to recently departed bassist Ray Brown. Hofmann is able to swing with her pianistic partner on the former and add a lovely texture to Brown's arrangement of the latter Cole Porter ballad. A testimony to their relationship consists of the jointly composed title cut, with both flute and piano sharing the spotlight through alternating solos, and a delicate duet performance of "Samba do Avião". A pleasant interlude is spent listening to a cheerful rendition of "Tonk" before the festivities turn Latin. Hofmann adds fire to Wofford's Afro-Cuban rhythms on their rendition of "Johnny Come Lately" that is in stark contrast to the heartfelt emotion of the Brazilian ballad "Minha". Spirits and Hoffman's flute soar on "Will You Still Be Mine" as her quick crisp attack makes for a punch out closer.
Live at Athenaeum Jazz Tracks: My Old Flame, Take the Coltrane, Macedonia, Dex-Mex, Medley: Lucky to Be Me/I'm Just a Lucky So and So, It's Probably Me, The Best Thing for You
Personnel: Mike Wofford-Piano, Peter Washington-Bass. Victor Lewis-Drums
Minor Miracle Tracks: Everything I Love, CRS-CRAFT, Minor Miracle, Samba do Avião, Tonk, Johnny Come Lately, Minha, Will You Still Be Mine?
Personnel: Holly Hofmann - c flute, Mike Wofford - piano, Peter Washington -bass, Victor Lewis - drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.