Friday, June 27, 2008

Mike Wheeler-Mikey's Waltz

Don't you just love the fact that cities across America are filled with pockets of really great jazz musicians. Unknown to wider audiences though some may be. All it points to is the fact that the music is alive and well.

In just about every major urban center there is jazz, breeding itself. Flourishing to large measure in the neighborhoods to the university. In fact, jazz education is greater now than its ever been in history. One such case is Houston based guitarist Mike Wheeler. He's worked in educations and in the 'streets', in the taverns, bars, lounges, etc. He's paid his dues along the way. And now we are entreated to the music that is...

"Mikey's Waltz" (Blue Bamboo) is one of the seasons true surprises. With rhythm mates pianist Pamela York (a one time student of Donald Brown); Tim Solook and David Craig, bass and drummer respectively. Wheeler and crew take on a full program of standards and originals with the title tune being the discs' magnum opus. And the closer 'Fair Trade' being the flag waver. Pianist York has a bright New 'York'ish touch and feel while the rhythm team is first rate. As for Wheeler's low key yet strident melodic lines, they are of classic bent. With nods to the illustrious legacy of jazz guitar Wheeler isn't flashy, just steady and heartfelt. No need to compare him to the greats, he's already there. This is a marvelously unflawed session that is sure to delight. A deeply intimate session filled with warmth, Mikey's Waltz is the ultimate kind of jazz session that is sure to pleasure after repeated listening.

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