Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WARREN WOLF IS TOO LAID-BACK ON NEW ALBUM "WOLFGANG"

“Wolfgang” is vibraphonist Warren Wolf’s second album for Mack Avenue Records, and his fourth as a bandleader. He made two albums "Incredible Jazz Vibes" and "Black Wolf for M&I Japan years before joining Mack Avenue. 

His reputation as a top jazz vibraphonist is golden, having proven himself as a boss and as a sideman, holding down the vibes chair in the high-profile San Francisco Jazz Collective. That's a big deal.

In the past, that vibes chair was held by the vibraphonists Bobby Hutcherson and Stefon Harris. Wolf's live shows are an experience. You have to wear a hardhat and safety-goggles because his playing is so volcanic. 

His self-titled debut for Mack Avenue was excellent. But "Wolfgang" barely meets expectations. If you expect the same volcanic swing on his debut with, you are going to be a little disappointed.

 "Wolfgang," due out August 20th, is not a bad outing. There are moments Wolf swings his ass completely off on "Frankie and Johnny" and "Lake Nerraw Flow".

Wolf has a strong classical music background, and he has some harmless fun with it on the title cut, and the album's closer “Le Carnaval de Venise,” with his label-mate pianist Aaron Diehl.   

Pianist Benny Green, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash are members of the gang, but neither standout. All told, Wolf is too laidback on this album. 
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