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January/February 2005

Michael Wolff and Impure Thoughts
Dangerous Vision
Artemis

For Dangerous Vision (Artemis), the new album from his groove-based band Impure Thoughts, Michael Wolff invited a live audience into the recording studio (in the manner of Wolff's one-time employer Cannonball Adderley) and played entire sets for the onlookers, complete with wholly improvised numbers. Wolff got the intended result: Dangerous Visions is blessed with a surfeit of spontaneity. A three-minute take on "A Love Supreme" finds bassist John B. Williams playing the original melody within a dense thicket of rhythms from tabla player Badal Roy, percussionist Airto Moreira and drummer Victor Jones, with Wolff taking myriad angles on the material. Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas" draws a breezy, completely improvised percussion arrangement that sends Wolff soaring, while the Wolff-penned title track builds a claustrophobic, desperate atmosphere out of a three-note motive. Two other Wolff originals really show off the strengths of this album, though: after a little recorded discussion about how the song should sound, "Heart and Soul" builds a relentless crescendo over an eight-note melody Wolff overheard his son singing, and "In the Moment" starts from a tabla line that inspires luminous improvised chords from high on Wolff's piano; Williams and Moreira later enter to add to the sublimated atmosphere.

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Ken Nahoum

Michael Wolff

Originally published in January/February 2005
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