Michael Wolff

Portraiture, the Blues Period

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Although showbiz trappings are sometimes connected to Michael Wolff (formerly leader of the Arsenio Hall Show Band), he is an excellent pianist who early in his career was in Cannonball Adderley's group. Wolff contributed two three originals to this trio/quartet date (which also includes bassist John B. Williams, drummer Roy McCurdy and guitarist Ben Rodefer, who is on five of the nine pieces), but it is his interpretations of the standards that are particularly interesting. Wolff shows on "Sonnymoon For Two" and "On Green Dolphin Street" that he knows the usual bop licks and can put a bit of his own musical personality into the music. Most intriguing are the childlike "Jean Pierre" (which seems destined to be probably the only Miles Davis tune of the 1980s that will be a standard) and "In a Silent Way." The latter has a wordless vocal from Kenny Rankin that adds to the effectiveness of the ensemble. Rankin is also heard on "'Round Midnight," but that is much more routine and additional proof that at this point the Thelonious Monk tune should only be played on special occasions. Overall, this is one of Michael Wolff's strongest jazz sessions to date. To his credit, his celebrity status has not diminished his interest in playing creative music.

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