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.
Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. Musician and critic Cub Koda noted, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Producer Sam Phillips recalled, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies'". Several of his songs, including "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Back Door Man", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful", have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 51 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."