11

Ben Wolfe: The Whisperer

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Ben Wolfe is the man responsible for double bass duties for some of the most popular names in jazz. As well as his six previous albums as leader, in a recording career that extends back to the '80s Wolfe can also be heard on a fist-full of recordings by Harry Connick Jr, Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis among others. What keeps him gainfully employed by some of the jazz world's biggest hitters? The Whisperer, a superb combination of great tunes and great playing, soon answers that question.

Wolfe's partners on The Whisperer—pianist Orrin Evans, drummer Donald Edwards and saxophonist Stacy Dillard—might not be as world-renowned as Krall, Marsalis and company, but they're prodigiously talented. Like Wolfe they all have impeccable taste, never over-playing, always supportive of each other. Evans' comping is a masterclass in timing and effectiveness, Edwards is equally capable of combining with Wolfe to create and maintain the pulse or to spring from Wolfe's steady bass rhythm to weave his percussion around the melody.

Wolfe's talents as a writer are also much in evidence—with the exception of a mournful take on Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" the tunes are Wolfe's own. "Hat In Hand" and "Camelot's Lean," featuring Dillard on soprano, demonstrate the quartet's laid-back, controlled, playing. The sound becomes noticeably warmer when Dillard moves to tenor sax on the melancholy "Love Is Near," Dillard's silky tone giving the number a softness that contrasts with the cooler soprano.

"Heroist," anchored by Evans' emphatic left hand and featuring Dillard's wildest soprano, "The Balcony"—tenor and piano interweaving melodies built on the pulse of bass and drums—and the moody "Chronos" showcase a more up-tempo side. "The Whisperer" is a mid-tempo swinger—Wolfe and Edwards set up a sense of urgency, Evans' comping evokes added suspense and Dillard's tenor completes the noir-ish atmosphere. For drama, it's the album's star attraction.

Trumpeter Josh Evans joins in for "S.T.F.U." Over Edwards and Wolfe's bouncing, cheerful, rhythm, Dillard's soprano and Evans' trumpet engage in a conversation, or perhaps it's an argument, before coming together for the closing section. As for the rather enigmatic title—"Some Things Feel Unusual," or "Sunny Times For Us" perhaps? It doesn't really matter: probably best to keep quiet about it. The Whisperer, by contrast, deserves to have its appearance shouted from the rooftops: a fine recording.

Track Listing: Heroist; Hat In Hand; Community; Love Is Near; S.T.F.U.; Camelot's Lean; Chronos; All The Things You Are; The Whisperer; Becoming Brothers; The Balcony; If Only.

Personnel: Ben Wolfe: bass; Orrin Evans: piano; Stacy Dillard: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Donald Edwards: drums; Josh Evans: trumpet (5).

Title: The Whisperer | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "As It Should Be: Ballads 2" CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Paris
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Another Place, Another Time" CD/LP/Track Review Another Place, Another Time
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.