"To say that Warren Wolf's Mack Avenue debut is auspicious would be an understatement. No Doubt this is one of the best of the year in jazz."
- Greg Thomas, NY Daily News
Wolf and Diehl have become good friends because of their deep appreciation for both jazz and classical music. “When I first composed the song ‘Wolfgang,’ I had a jazz band choir in mind as well as a whole other section that I cut out.” In the tune, Diehl and Wolf marvelously converse on their instruments, in dialogues and in counterpoint. The other duo number comes at the end of the disc when the pair gleefully dives into “Le Carnaval de Venise,” a waltz composed by Jean-Baptiste Arban. “I first heard this music in high school [Baltimore School of the Arts] where a trumpeter took the lead,” Wolf says. “Fast-forward to seeing a clip on YouTube of Wynton [Marsalis] playing this with a symphony orchestra. I bought the recording and was blown away.” The piece is delivered as a percussive waltz with Diehl and Wolf flowing together like gentle waves.
With the rhythm section of Green/McBride/Nash, Wolf launches into three tunes including a bluesy and hip take on the traditional song, “Frankie and Johnny,” which his father had turned him on to when he was a teenager. “I listened to a live version that Ray Brown did with Milt Jackson and Stanley Turrentine and others, and I loved the pulse of the bass,” Wolf says. “You can hear Christian yelling in this take, which is a tribute to Ray Brown.” The group also serves up “Annoyance,” with McBride bowing in the opening and Wolf taking the lyrical duties (“If you hear something like a mistake in this, it’s supposed to be there,” says Wolf, who likes to hear dissonance within the beauty) and the blues-oriented “Things Were Done Yesterday,” where Green flies on the keys. “I’ve always been a big-time fan of Benny,” Wolf says. “To hear the way he plays through changes is amazing. He tears it up here.”
A smart, fun, blues-to-swing-to-classical collection of indelible melodies, Wolfgang ups the ante in Wolf’s young career. Even though he’s still developing his voice and his vision (he says he has several new projects he’s thinking of), he has been given high praise from jazz fans and recording executives alike who enjoy what they’re hearing. When asked about whom he is impressed with on the scene today, one of the legendary label chiefs immediately responded: Warren Wolf. “Warren is very different,” he said. “He has a sense of swing and a percussive style. He has great dynamics, excellent compositions and is very exciting.” He called Wolf’s deal with Mack Avenue to be a very important signing.