On his latest Woodward Avenue set One Way Back, two time Grammy winning guitarist Paul Brown keeps the deep funk and cool urban vibe flowing while tapping deeper than ever before into his lifelong blues influences. While extending his long history of collaborations with the genre's top saxophonists with "Sexy Thang" featuring Darren Rahn, the collection's musical core is a series of dynamic collaborations with top genre guitarists Chris Standring, Peter White, Marc Antoine and Chuck Loeb. Highlights include a the lead single, a bold and fiery re-imagining of The Crusaders' soul-jazz classic "Put It Where You Want It," and a powerhouse Memphis soul-influenced tune "Well Alright" featuring vocalist (and former Hi Records songwriter) Don Bryant.
On the strength of his membership in ensembles led by Christian McBride and Aaron Diehl and his own auspicious Mack Avenue debut in 2011, Warren Wolf appears on a path to stardom as arguably the most exciting bop vibraphonist since Bobby Hutcherson. For Wolfgang, his followup collection on Mack Avenue, Wolf said he wanted to showcase his writing skills and provide more melodies that people can remember. For precisely those reasons, Wolfgang suffers by comparison with his previous work.
Prominent jazz vibraphonists have always been relatively few and Warren Wolf has the potential to be one of the top players of his generation. Wolf is joined by bassist Christian McBride, pianist Peter Martin, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, with guest appearances by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Tim Green. Wolf is a master of lyricism and restraint with his spacious interpretation of Johnny Mandel's timeless ballad "Emily." He doubles on vibes and marimba in an intricate interpretation of Chick Corea's "Señor Mouse." Six of the songs are originals by the leader. The composer takes a back seat in the sensual "Natural Beauties," showcasing Martin and Green (the latter on soprano sax) first before adding his dazzling solo.