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Mike Wofford

It's Personal

Capri Records LTD

Sometimes I ignore the liner notes on a record, but this time I discovered a real gem of information: Track 9 "Nica's Tempo" was written in honor of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. This has to be one of the best nobility names ever! The track is reasonably cool and it's certainly representative of the piano-based excellence of this collection. Pianist Wofford hangs out on the West Coast and has played with nearly everyone from John Lennon to Quincy Jones, and has so much jazz cred he doesn't even need a nickname. This collection contains some of his personal favorites, and to my ear recalls Vince Guaraldi more than any other artist. More melodic than most modern jazz, this is an easy album to pop in the player for background music, party ambience, or a session of cooling down with a martini after a hard commute.

What does the bartender recommend? The slick "Cole Porter" is a nice start, a little more involved than Mr. Porter's melodies, but Wofford certainly captures the essence of a more elegant era in this original. Duke Ellington's "The Eighth Veil" picks slowly over the original's Latinesque feel, the arrangement crying out for a vocal track to put its melancholy into words. The Talking Heads drop in for the mash up "Once in a Lifetime," the title of which also belongs to an Anthony Newley Broadway hit, and both melodies somehow fit together on Wofford's keyboard. Here I'll suggest that Newley's part of the composition seemed to work better -- punk has never fused with jazz the way progressive rock did. There's more great material here with Billie Holliday- and Earl Hines-influenced tracks, and that can't be bad with Mr. Wofford leading us on.

Capri Records: www.caprirecords.com