WBGO Radar

Michael Wolff & Mike Clark: "Wolff & Clark Expedition 2"

wolff and clark expedition 2 CD cover

It's been a 45-year musical friendship for Michael Wolff and Mike Clark.

"Michael brings out my experimental, pushing-the-envelope side," says Clark, the drummer who propelled Herbie Hancock's Headhunters in the 70s.

"With him I can live emotionally. He knows so much history, he can translate my stuff without even thinking about it."

Wolff came up through the bands of Cannonball Adderley, Cal Tjader and Nancy Wilson. He credits these experiences for giving him a natural affinity with Clark.

"We came up when everybody was loving all kinds of music," he explains.

"When we play, we bring the energy from all the cats we've played with, but with the attitudes and vocabulary of today," he says. "It excites me because it's different every single time."

Separately, Wolff & Clark have sense memories of playing with these masters, as well as Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Chet Baker and so many others. All of whom have helped move their journey to this wonderful moment.

Expedition 2 is the followup to their first kinetic collaboration in 2013. They are joined by bassists Christian McBride and Daryl Johns, trumpeter Wallace Roney and young fireball saxophonist Halley Niswanger joining their kinetic collaboration.

There are duets on Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" and Ornette Coleman's "Invisible" that go back to the late 60s for the leaders.

There's the trio polish put on John Carisi's "Israel," and two from Monk's trunk - "In Walked Bud" and "Monk's Dream," where Mcbride takes the melody.

Wolff's opener, "Clark Bar," right away makes you glad you joined the ride.

The pianist's "Stray" is a gorgeous number where McBride's bass sings to every listener. Saxophonist Niswanger fuels the  foursome on two nuggets from the rock world, Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "1999", written by Prince, where bassist daryl Johns brings the stuff!

On the co-leaders' original, "Madiba," trumpeter Wallace Roney steps on the gas to remind the quintet he ain't slowing down for no stop signs or red lights. Wallace also adds his spirit on Dizzy Gillespie's "Night In Tunisia."

Wolff & Clark's Expedition 2 hits the street on February 24th from Random Act Records.

   - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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