BEN WOLFE QUINTET, LIVE at SMALLS

The best thing about a live date is the spontaneity of a band. Here, it’s also about intimacy and an appreciative audience. The bassist Ben Wolfe and his long-time group are documented at the acclaimed Smalls, located in NYC’s West Village. With a self-described “freewheeling and bohemian vibe,” the jazz club cultivates a classic after hours environment that dovetails beautifully with the music Wolfe plays. Fluent in modern bebop and replete with soloists whose chops would make Art Blakey proud, Wolfe deftly navigates his band through nimble compositions with limber rhythms and a stout frontline – trumpeter Ryan Kiser and Marcus Strickland. On he lead tune, Wolfe pitches “Block” by unleashing a rapid bassline that’s punctuated with a playful coda by the exciting pianist Luis Perdomo (Miguel Zenón and Ravi Coltrane). The terrific drummer, Gregory Hutcherson, is right there on tunes like “Telescope” with in-the-pocket beats and shimmering cymbal work. Wolfe’s tunes evoke a classic past, from the loping bass that’s the backbone of “For The Great Sonny Clark” (a legendary pianist on early Blue Note records) to the Monk-like “Unjust” and bold fusion of horns on “Coleman’s Cab.” It’s a relaxed and swinging session that doesn’t break new ground, but satisfies under Wolfe’s leadership. (9 tracks; 61:14 minutes)
   

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JAZZ IN SPACE: BEN WOLFE QUINTET, LIVE at SMALLS

Saturday, January 1, 2011

BEN WOLFE QUINTET, LIVE at SMALLS

The best thing about a live date is the spontaneity of a band. Here, it’s also about intimacy and an appreciative audience. The bassist Ben Wolfe and his long-time group are documented at the acclaimed Smalls, located in NYC’s West Village. With a self-described “freewheeling and bohemian vibe,” the jazz club cultivates a classic after hours environment that dovetails beautifully with the music Wolfe plays. Fluent in modern bebop and replete with soloists whose chops would make Art Blakey proud, Wolfe deftly navigates his band through nimble compositions with limber rhythms and a stout frontline – trumpeter Ryan Kiser and Marcus Strickland. On he lead tune, Wolfe pitches “Block” by unleashing a rapid bassline that’s punctuated with a playful coda by the exciting pianist Luis Perdomo (Miguel Zenón and Ravi Coltrane). The terrific drummer, Gregory Hutcherson, is right there on tunes like “Telescope” with in-the-pocket beats and shimmering cymbal work. Wolfe’s tunes evoke a classic past, from the loping bass that’s the backbone of “For The Great Sonny Clark” (a legendary pianist on early Blue Note records) to the Monk-like “Unjust” and bold fusion of horns on “Coleman’s Cab.” It’s a relaxed and swinging session that doesn’t break new ground, but satisfies under Wolfe’s leadership. (9 tracks; 61:14 minutes)
   

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