Michael Wolff — Love and Destruction (Wrong)

Chances are you already know Michael Wolff as one of the most innovative and dynamic pianists of his generation (if not, you ought to). His name deserves to be breathed in tandem with the likes of Brad Mehldau and Bill Charlap, though his style, which owes as much to Jerry Lee Lewis as it does to Art Tatum, is utterly unique.

But, what of Michael Wolff the singer?

On a dozen of his latest disc’s 13 tracks, Wolff begs that precise question. On selections that include originals both sprightly (the frothy churn of “Falling in Love”) and muscular (“Underwater”, a post-Katrina examination of love and loss in his native New Orleans), and a host of clever covers (ranging from Donovan’s dippy “Mellow Yellow “ to Radiohead’s hypnotic “Everything in Its Right Place”), Wolff proves himself an exceptionally astute vocal stylist. His sound, a rock-jazz hybrid that exists somewhere in the vast expanse between Donald Fagen and Mark Murphy, is at once as distinctly powerful and as cunningly seductive as his playing. Indeed, one needs look no further than the disc’s brilliant nod to Leonard Cohen to sum up Love and Destruction’s singular appeal: “Hallelujah.”

JazzTimes, Christopher Loudon, December 2006