Ben Wolfe: Unjust

Bassist Wolfe adds variety to a predominantly straight-ahead session via changing lineups including Nicholas Payton and Joel Ross


Wolfe has assembled eight musicians here to interpret 11 originals. The eight appear in different combinations throughout the programme but never all together.

The opening piece, The Heckler, is in sextet format but mainly a feature for Payton’s stinging trumpet lines. Driving the unit are Wolfe, drummer Kimmel and Rei on piano. Wilkins has a lively uptempo alto solo here. It ends with more treble squeals from Payton. Here and on seven other tracks Joel Ross plays vibes as soloist and sometimes, as on Hats Off To Rebay, in place of piano. The differing line-ups certainly offer plenty of variety in the music which is mainly straight-ahead, in bop style.

Lullaby In D introduces Nicole Glover on tenor sax. This slow ballad with a passing resemblance to My Ship has a soft-focus tenor solo by Ms Glover where her searching, sometimes choppy lines are most effective. This track and the following The Corridor both feature Orrin Evans on piano and Ms Glover’s tenor sax.

Vibes man Ross gets a chance to shine on The Corridor, where he is the only soloist. He teams up with bass and drums to form a swinging trio. Only drummer Kimmel and Wolfe on bass are on every track. Mask Man is straight ahead hard bop with Payton, Glover and just the rhythm team.

The session as a whole works quite well with some interesting variations in personnel and 11 highly serviceable compositions for improvisation.

The Heckler; Hats Off To Rebay; Lullaby In D; Bob French; The Corridor; Mask Man; Eventually; Unjust; Sparkling Red; Sideways; Hats Off To Rebay (Interlude); Reprise (57.23)
Wolfe (b); Arron Kimmel (d); Nicholas Payton (t); Immanuel Wilkins (as); Nicole Glover (ts); Joel Ross (vib); Addison Frei, Orrin Evans (p). NYC, 6 & 7 December 2021.
Resident Arts Records RA 8449