What say you? You have come before us with impure thoughts of what a jam band should be! You know better than that. Close your eyes and open your mind for many bands that truly jam were doing so decades before the term was coined. Michael Wolff has closed his and the result is heard in the pure deep groove of Impure Thoughts.
Many know pianist/ composer Michael Wolff from his long, respected tenure as pianist for jazz legends such as Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins and Cal Tjader. Others were introduced to him in his five years as bandleader on the Arsenio Hall show. And then there were the four critically acclaimed straight ahead jazz solo recordings that brought him notoriety and, all of which, held top five positions in the U.S. jazz charts. And further still, many were introduced to Wolff this summer as he composed the soundtrack for the award-winning feature motion picture The Tic Code, based on his real life story and written by and starring his wife, actress Polly Draper(from the TV series "thirty something"). The Tic Code, which also stars Gregory Hines, tells the story of a young piano prodigy with Tourette"s syndrome. So, with all these credits and musical ambitions, there was only one road to travel, the one less traveled.
Impure Thoughts features Wolff on acoustic piano but also brims with a dense cascading backdrop of African and Indian Beats and a percussive wall of syncopation produced by bass, reeds, shakers, drums and tablas. In assembling the band for this new musical jam, Wolff corralled some "heavies" including tabla player, Badal Roy, who made the original marriage between jazz and Indian music complete when he recorded on Miles Davis "On the Corner" . And with Roy in the mix, Michael pays homage to Miles, the fusion patriarch, with a propulsive version of In A Silent Way .
In the simplest terms, Impure Thoughts comes across as a collective of musicians stretching out and having a blast. From the exotic Indian tones on "Eritrea" and "Euphoria" to the African infused swagger of "Bengal", you'll feel like you're on a mysterious jungle safari. And if spice is what you crave, "Mama Tell Me" incorporates a festive Latin / Cuban groove over which Wolff gets busy, but not too much so, as he slips back into the pocket and lets the band discover a new plane to graze upon. From there, the blood in your appendages keeps on flowing, as the band pulses and throbs through renditions of funk classics "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Thank you For Lettin" me be Mice Elf?. So, stop crowding your thoughts with impure notions and take a refreshing ride that reaches beyond and brings distinct worlds of music one step closer to fusionary perfection.
Personnel: Alex Foster: reeds; John B. Williams: bass; Michael Wolff: piano; Frank Colon: percussion; Badal Roy: tablas; Victor Jones: drums.
- Rob Evanoff