"How I Feel at This Given Moment" Warren Wolf
Antenna Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Warren Wolf: Vibes Alive
Young vibraphone virtuoso Warren Wolf 's stunned jazz aficionados and band mates alike, playing at a consistently high level unmatched by many of his peers. The Baltimore native's self-titled Mack Avenue debut also reveals him as a consummate bandleader, songwriter and listener (as important in jazz as it is in acting). Wolf’s music isn’t showy or ostentatious; his compositions exhibit the joy of communication with his group and his audience. Wolf plays in a tough, masculine style one minute (he lifts weights to keep his arms up to the task) and a more fluid, melodic style the next. Both approaches swing, and his forcefulness brings underrated 1950s powerhouse Terry Gibbs to mind. Wolf also possesses Milt Jackson's aching, deeply lyrical style and bop-centric take on the blues. To understand his appreciation for Milt, check out the free ballad "How I Feel at This Given Moment." The tune starts off gorgeously, but austere and imperial, in the style of Modern Jazz Quartet. Then, Wolf builds more emotion into the song, going from melancholy vibes to a kind of mellow, radiant positivity as he switches to the woodier marimba. This free cut will pique your interest about the different dimensions Wolf shows off on the rest of the album. We’ve also spotlighted Wolf's work as a sideman. Bassist Christian McBride, the consummate mainstream jazz musician, gives the vibraphonist ample solo opportunities, while trumpeter Jason Palmer lets him shine with a more diffuse, post-bop approach. Listening to all of these tracks makes clear that young musicians like Warren Wolf are still bringing new energy and fresh ideas to jazz. – Nick Dedina, Google Music
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