in town for his work with Tom Principato and Deanna Bogart, bassist Steve
Wolf steps to the fore with this impressive and stylistically diverse recording.
Anyone who's admired Wolf's nimble
work in the past will find some familiar touchstones here, whether it's
the exuberant romp "Hit That Jive Jack," the similarly extroverted "You
Bring Out the Boogie," or the languid reading of "I Got It Bad (And That
latter tune finds Wolf briefly reunited with Principato whose spacious,
jazz-inflected approach to the blues neatly sustains the soulful mood established
by Swing Speak's saxophonist, Bruce Swaim. An Afro-Caribbean spirit infects
both "Hush Little Baby" and "AIice in Wonderland," while the Jimi Hendrix
tune "Up From the Skies" receives a peculiar make over, thanks to a finger-popping
arrangement featuring the band's pianist and vocalist Tim Ford.
The album highlights, though,
often find Wolf, Swaim, Ford, drummer Barry Hart and company working in
a more thoughtful jazz setting. For example, when Swaim trades in his tenor
sax for a soprano, and Wolf moves from electric to upright bass, they help
produce a lovely rendition of the Billy Strayhorn tune "Lotus Blossom."
Another treat, the band's treatment of "Get Happy," begins with a somber
introduction by Ford before the band and guest trombonist Rick Lillard engage
in some serious mood-altering solos and ensembles. --- Mike Joyce
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