One wouldn’t ordinarily think that a vibraphonist would serve as the leader of a jazz band, but Warren Wolf makes a convincing case that more people ought to pick up the mallets and take the lead. On his eponymous debut record, Wolf shows his immense skill with the vibraphone, whether he’s running as fast as he can up and down the aluminum bars on the super-fast “One For Lenny”, helping lay down a smooth groove on “427 Mass Avenue”, or being deeply expressive with “Intimate Dance”.
Though Wolf’s command of his instrument is impressive, the album as a whole leaves much to be desired. Wolf’s skill is never in doubt; this is technically impressive music without ever being too obsessed with bludgeoning its listeners over the head with how crazy its time signatures are. Instead of letting the unique quality of the vibraphone be the focus of the record, however, for the most part it blends in the arrangements, which is more or less jazz by-the-numbers. Still, Wolf’s sound is a unique one, and it’d be great to hear him explore that on future outings. For now, Warren Wolf may be a no-frills listen, but is a hopeful sign of better things to come.