As Long As There's Music
The fact that this CD marks Wyands' debut as a leader for an American label could be considered criminal. His first CD as a leader in 1978 was for the Danish label Storyville, but we're talking about his own country, where he began his career at age 16. For more than a half century (Wyands turned 72 this past summer), he has been one of the most sought-after sidemen, comping for the likes of Charles Mingus, Kenny Burrell, Zoot Sims, Roy Haynes, Freddy Hubbard, Gene Ammons, Benny Carter, Illinois Jacquet, Gigi Gryce, Oliver Nelson and singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and Etta Jones.
As Long As There's Music, with bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Grady Tate, reveals Wyands' trademark "sophisticated bop" approach to some great standards, and yet the highlight turns out to be the only original, "West 94th Street Funk." Following Drummond's swaggering walk, Wyands gets down and dirty, with Oscar Peterson-like tremolos, aided by Tate's occasional shuffle.
Leading up to that final track is Wyand's familiar, gentle swing, filled with considerable polish: the seldom heard Wild Bill Davis line, "Stolen Sweets;" the title tune, an ideal up tempo; and "With the Wind and Rain in Your Hair," a surprisingly way-up tempo; and the always pleasing Ellington gem, "Drop Me Off in Harlem."
Wyands shines on the slow tunes such as "Stairway to the Stars" and the rubato ruminations of "What's New" and "My Old Flame," the latter of which sounds Tatumesque with its flamboyant runs and hints of stride.