Wessell "Warmdaddy" Anderson has been playing alto saxophone professionally for over 20 years, much of the time with the Wynton Marsalis
Sextet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, but has only four albums to his name as a leader. Warm It Up Warmdaddy!
is a re-packaging, by Nu Jazz Records, of his self-released 2006 CD, Space
. As his nickname suggests, Warmdaddy's sax playing has a rich and welcoming ton,e and coupled with the equally warm and swinging styles of his fellow musicians he creates a rewarding and engaging set of tunes on this album. Warm It Up Warmdaddy!
mixes Anderson originals with re-workings of established classics. With due deference to the originals Anderson re-titles these re-workings, or contrafacts, but not by much: hence, for example, "What is dat Thang?" is based on "What is this Thing Called Love?"; "I'll Forget May" is based on "I'll Remember April"; and "All the Things You Are" becomes "All the Thangs You Ain't." In some cases, "All the Thangs You Ain't" for one, Anderson's versions are closer to the originals than in others, such as "I'll Forget May." In every case they are played with such warmth and care that closeness or otherwise are irrelevant: these recordings are there to be enjoyed in their own right.
Another re-working of an old favorite"Stella by Starlight," re-titled as "Monk by Starlight"enables pianist Lawrence Sieberth to stretch out, providing a beautifully-crafted solo before Anderson's alto repeats the simple refrain over and over to bring the track to a close. The standout track, though, is "Space, Nakamura San," a nine-minute composition underpinned throughout by some delightful, empathic playing from bassist Roland Guerin
and drummer Mark Gully, over which Anderson and then Sieberth play solos of real grace and beauty.
The review copy of the CD contains 13 tracks, including alternate, faster, takes of "Balto, Will You Please Come Home" and "I'll Forget May." However, Nu Jazz Records are selling the album in a number of formats (CD, iTunes, prepaid digital music cards) and the precise track list, it seems, varies from format to format, with the iTunes and prepaid card versions also including two video tracks. The first nine tunes will, however, be part of each format.
What is dat Thang?; I'll Forget May; Warm it up, Warmdaddy!; Balto, Will You Please Come Home; Monk by Starlight; Warmfreeze; Fore; All the Thangs You Ain't; Space "Nakamura San"; [Balto, Will You Please Come Home (alternate take); Strickly Platonic; I'll Forget May (alternate take); Bluesette.
Wessell Anderson: alto saxophone; Lawrence Sieberth: piano; Roland Guerin: bass; Mark Gully: drums.