April 2006

Brad Wheeler
The Future Was Yesterday
Origin Records

Although John Coltrane was a primary inspiration, Chicago tenorist/sopranoist Brad Wheeler has honed his Coltrane-influenced tone into a thing of beauty all his own. His exquisite diminuendos as the tone evenly fades away demonstrate a control rarely encountered with today's saxophonists. And his sound is smooth and even throughout his instrument's full range, which he uses liberally. Wheeler also possesses a masterful technique with which to negotiate the Coltrane-inspired scales and runs he sometimes employs. But often he opts for a more relaxed, reflective approach or a sprightly dancing swing as dictated by the tempos and moods of his lyrical compositions.

Wheeler's cohorts on The Future Was Yesterday are the singer Kurt Elling's excellent rhythm section of pianist Laurence Hobgood, bassist Rob Amster and drummer Frank Parker with John Moulder added on acoustic and electric guitars. They constitute a cohesive group that deal expertly with often shifting tempos and meters and display a keen sensitivity to each other. Additionally, Wheeler improvises in an imaginative postbop style, while Moulder contributes solos that range from attractive, Iberian-sounding acoustic work to passionate, distorted electric sounds.

Originally published in April 2006

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