Mike Wofford

Bird of Paradise

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Mike Wofford's second album as a leader was initially released by Milestone as Summer Night, with one track, "Noisy Neighbors," removed from this late-'70s reissue by Discovery. The pianist, who is better known as an accompanist to any number of great vocalists, shines throughout this trio session with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer John Guerin. His humorous treatment of Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You" and a gorgeous take of the ballad "Make Someone Happy" are the obvious high points, but there's a lot more to enjoy. He captures the spirit of pianist Jimmy Rowles' jaunty "Behind the Face" and shines the spotlight on Budwig in a revival of Gershwin's overlooked "Slap That Bass." Guerin's post-bop composition "Nimrod," which originated as a background figure during a Maynard Ferguson solo when both he and Wofford were in the trumpeter's band, finds the leader overdubbing a second piano line in an exciting performance. It's a shame that this session was only reissued in part on the Discovery CD compilation Sure Thing, which quickly lapsed from print following the demise of the label.