While swimming in the rather large body of sounds that comprise the jazz mainstream, Ben Wolfe‘s The Whisperer evinces no obvious stylistic points of reference or influence, possesses unusual depth, and adds up to something larger and more significant than a composite of impressive individual performances. Wolfe’s compositions—eleven out of the disc’s twelve tracks—comprise the record’s core. He crafts melodies that are familiar in a good way, and encases them in tightly knit, logical, non-standard forms.
There’s a marvelous sense of connectedness in the compositions, ensemble playing, and the overall relationship between Wolfe’s bass, tenor and soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard, pianist Orrin Evans, and drummer Donald Edwards—as well as trumpeter Josh Evans, who plays on one track. Most of these musicians have displayed resolute, highly individualistic personalities on previous recording projects. Throughout The Whisperer they seem to be laying back just a little, each curtailing a determined stride down his own path in favor of intently listening and thoughtfully responding to one another. In small doses their strengths are magnified. The totality of all of these overlapping relationships makes it hard to imagine the compositions without the individuals playing them; conversely, it’s difficult to fathom the rich, nuanced, performances outside of the context of Wolfe’s compositions.
Track Listing: Heroist; Hat In Hand; Community; Love Is Near; S.T.F.U.; Camelot’s Lean; Chronos; All The Things You Are; The Whisperer; Becoming Brothers; The Balcony; If Only.
Personnel: Ben Wolfe: bass; Orrin Evans: piano; Stacy Dillard: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Donald Edwards: drums; Josh Evans: trumpet (5).