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Wish List is pianist/composer/bandleader Mike Holober's third album, in addition to appearances in the piano chair for the Pete McGuiness Jazz Orchestra, the Jason Rigby Quartet, the Pete McCann Quintet and the Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra. Holober is a New York-based pianist who previously had worked with Nick Brignola's group and whose style has been influenced by such modal pianists as Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock.
His first album, Canyon (Sons of Sound, 2003), was produced by another modal pianist of note, Fred Hersch. Mike Holober has garnered a reputation for being a composer of quality originals, and he provides seven more new songs here in addition to covers of Lennon/McCartney's "Blackbird" and the Jimmy Van Heusen/Phil Silvers standard "Nancy."
Holober has been able to keep his group intact since his debut, though bassist Scott Colley has now been replaced by John Patitucci. Here he is joined once again by tenor and soprano saxophonist Tim Ries, guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. The album begins with the title tune, where Ries takes a warm solo on tenor as well as a swirling soprano sax statement. Muthspiel follows with a brief lyrical solo. Muthspiel is again featured on the denser "Conundrum," followed again by some effective Ries soprano sax.
The ballad "Bumphs" again provides a Muthspiel solo after Holober's, and then they're joined by Ries, who vamps behind the guitarist while Holober effectively feeds the two. "Tulainyo" is a more fragmentary composition and Holober shifts into a more aggressive solo, followed by Ries and then Muthspiel playing in a John Scofield mode. Patitucci gets to stretch out on "Boo," and the familiar Beatles tune "Blackbird" features Tim Ries' tenor, first stating the melody and then delivering a very Michael Brecker-ish solo, and then Muthspiel enters for a solo. The guitarist, who comes from a European early-'90s fusion background and has been compared to Kurt Rosenwinkel and a young John Scofield, continues to play in that tradition on this album.