This remarkable live performance by pianist Mike Wofford was recorded during the 2003 Jazz at the Athenaeum (a private library in La Jolla, California) series, though it was taped at the larger Neurosciences Institute Auditorium in San Diego. Joined by an accomplished rhythm section consisting of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis, this trio set features a diverse mix of songs played with imagination. The old chestnut "My Old Flame" opens with a disguised introduction, reworked with a brisk five/four rhythm and a richly voiced substitution for the original bassline. Wofford turns on the afterburners in his take of Duke Ellington's blues "Take the Coltrane" (written for his studio date with the tenor saxophonist). Washington's tasty bass and Lewis' snappy percussion underscore the leader's arrangement of "Macedonia," an infrequently performed composition by Conte Candoli. Lewis contributed the challenging "Dex-Mex," a tribute to Dexter Gordon, which showcases the drummer to good effect. It's not often that the music of Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington is combined in a medley, but Wofford joins a solo take of "Lucky to Be Me" with a snappy trio version of "I'm Just a Lucky So and So." The only disappointing track is the trio's interpretation of rocker Sting's "It's Probably Me." It opens with a long solo by Lewis, but in spite of Wofford's bluesy arrangement, it gets rather monotonous. Fortunately, the pianist's jaunty, playful performance of "The Best Thing for You" wraps the CD with a flourish. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden