Less a true rebirth than a return to the stylistic suggestions that surrounded Warren Wolf's ears in the 1990s, Reincarnation finds the forty-year-old vibraphonist folding his serious jazz persona within settings that lean heavily on soul and R&B. Embracing the grooves, glazes and hooks endemic to those realms, Wolf delivers music that's both slick and smile-inducing.
Paving the way for what's to come down the road, Baltimore radio personality Marcellus "Bassman" Shepard introduces the "new" Warren Wolf to us with the brief "Smooth Intro." Then it's off to the world of glee and groove on "For Ma," a dedication to Wolf's late mother. With foundational pocket-playing from church-reared drummer Carroll Dashiell III and jazz-fusion electric bass dynamo Richie Goods, tasteful contributions from pianist Brett Williams and a catchy melody courtesy of Wolf's mallets, the song, which nods to the Wolf family matriarch's love of Motown and vintage soul, is brimming with optimism.
Continuing down hybridized roads, Wolf lays claim to all that glistens and flows. There's "Vahbying," which relies heavily on a bounding vamp that offers welcome blowing room; "In The Heat of the Night," a steamy and sultry slow-joint with vocalist Imani-Grace Cooper and Shepardplus guest guitarist Mark Whitfieldupping the humidity factor; "The Struggle," a largely reflective nod to personal heartbreak; and the Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You," a number that looks romance square in the eyes.
Whether thinking fondly of his musical past, his mother's influence, his youngest children (on the touching "Sebastian and Zoë"), or life's blessings, love is paramount in Wolf's vision. It's the through line that makes Reincarnation a unified statement. Less muscle and more heart, this is Warren Wolf in his most tenderly expressive stance.
Smooth Intro; For Ma; Vahybing; In The Heat of the Night; The Struggle; For the Love of You; Sebastian
and Zoë; Livin' The Good Life; Come And Dance With Me; Smooth Outro.
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