Trumpeter Mike Wade’s name is not exactly a household word, even by jazz standards. Yet he is the founder of three bands, each of which has a recorded legacy. The first is the acoustic Standard Time Quintet, which released Be Truthful on the J Curve label. The second is the electric Mike Wade Reality Band, which released Reality on the Shorty Bop label. Wade's latest group effort comes from the diamond-hard bop ensemble Mike Wade and the Jazz Mafia: The Broach Approach. The album title derives from the name from Wade’s incendiary drummer, Melvin Broach. It presents a wide variety of edgy music from the pop "On Broadway," which struts proudly, propelled by the Broach approach and fueled by Wade’s best Lee Morgan to Wayne Shorter’s introspective "Fall" and his tense "ESP."
The septet Jazz Mafia performs a brand of hard bop that is very much contemporary with the 21st Century. There are no blues jams here, only well conceived tempo burners that sometimes emit a slow burn ("On Broadway") and sometimes a fast burn ("Oracle"). The music is complex, yet readily accessible and enjoyable. Guitarist Jack Broad solos well on "Fall" as does saxophonist Stacy Dillard on "ESP." For that matter, Wade does his best Miles on "ESP," though Wade does not sound like either Morgan or Davis. He very much has his own sound: conservatory-trained, both informed and creative. I look forward to hearing much more from Mr. Wade.