Monday, May 23, 2016


Vibraphonist Warren Wolf has made his best album for Mack Avenue Records yet “Convergence “. Wolfe is joined on this terrific album by bassist Christian McBride, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, pianist Brad Mehldau, and special guest guitarist John Scofield, marking the first time Wolfe and Scofield have swung together, and their pairing is a blind date that paid off big time. Wolf has two other albums on Mack Avenue. “Convergence” is the first that shows every square inch of his genius. The album opens with “Soul Sister”. Scofield and Wolf have back-to-back solos that will satisfy your sweet tooth. You could stop playing the album after listening to that cut, confident the money paid for it was well spent. Other winners on “Convergence” are “King Of Two Fives,” Wolf’s duet with McBride, and “Cell Phone”. The cuts, however, that will have you begging for seconds is Wolf’s complete redo of Stevie Wonder’s “Knock Me Off Of My Feet, “ and “Stardust/The Minute Waltz”.

“Short Stories” is jazz trumpeter Dominick Farinacci’s major label debut. Although his reputation as a major trumpeter of his generation is well-known, “Short Stories” sound very much like his official coming out party. This is an unflawed album. It will be shameful if “Short Stories” isn’t in the running for the best jazz album of 2016. Stylistically, Farinacci is akin to greats Harry James and Wynton Marsalis. Like them,  Farinacci knows how to cut to the marrow of a song. It doesn’t matter the order in which you listen to the ten tracks on "Short Stories. You’re assured a joyous voyage. I suggest, however, when you play the album go straight to the ballad “Soldier’s Things”. From there play “Senor Blues”. Then check out how he sicced his horn on "Doha Blues” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”.   Farinacci deserves a medal for his reworking of “Black Coffee”.

Fans of alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett know his playbook top to bottom. Garrett wants listeners to have a grand time with his music, and that’s apparent on “Do Your Dance” Garrett’s fifth outing for Mack Avenue Records. The album has the energy of his live shows, particularly the conclusion of his concerts when he plays “Happy People” and the audience goes nuts. “Philly,” and “Backyard Groove” are standouts that will make you want to boogie hard. The best cut of the bunch “Waltz (3 Sisters)”will leave footprints on your soul. The album has a flaw unfortunately, the inclusions of a rapper on the title cut, and “Wheatgrass Shot (Straight To The Head).  
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