JazzTimes — July/Aug 2007: jazz, JAZZ, jazz

This piano trio album was recorded in Hollywood in 2001, in a studio (Private Island Trax) and by an engineer (Michael McDonald) better known for pop music than jazz. The slam of John B. Williams’ bass is deep and clean. Michael Wolff’s piano is absolutely life-like. Victor Jones’ cymbals sparkle in free air. All three players are close around you, and why not: Who really prefers to sit in the 48th row? It makes you wonder why more famous studios and engineers so often can’t figure it out.

Wolff’s band Impure Thoughts made an album six years ago called Intoxicate, finished early, and decided to “have some fun” by keeping the tape rolling and letting the rhythm section blow on nine standard they all knew. These tracks, finally now released, have the relaxed, nothing-to-lose attitude of the last set of a long gig, when most of the customers have gone home.

Wolff scatters fragments that are clearly “Autumn Leaves” and Williams’ limber power-walk becomes a solo and an alternative interpretation. “Footprints” and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” are percussive, emphatic and liberal with thematic facts, yet remain tributes to the songs. The ballads (“Cry Me A River,” “My Funny Valentine”), assertive yet loose, do not brood, because the band’s goal was to have fun. All of us do. JT

JazzTimes, July/Aug 2007