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Craig Wuepper: The Returnsman

Drummer Craig Wuepper brings private studies, a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and nights leading a band at the Savoy Lounge to this session. Billy Hart and Bobby Thomas were two of his teachers. His drum-kit work is crisp and dapper. “The thing that separates Craig Wuepper from his generation of drummers…is Craig’s control of dynamics,” Phil Schaap says in the liner notes.

On the pretty “Savoy Song,” one of his four originals on the album, he employs a beat reminiscent of a Scottish tattoo, and alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo intones a droning, squirming solo reminiscent of John Coltrane. The impressive young alto man appears on four tracks. Trumpeter Ryan Kisor graces four other tracks, scoring with mellow lyricism on Jobim’s “Zingaro.” Wuepper, pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber and the ubiquitous, always dependable tenor saxist Eric Alexander are aboard for the entire album.

The title tune is a corkscrewy original that Webber hefts with a percussive solo and a big walking sound in the ensemble and behind the other soloists. LeDonne shines on “We’ll Be Together Again” with tinkling, accented lines and fine block chords. “The Best Thing for You,” another standard, tests everyone’s uptempo chops.

It’s clear that the leader has a firm sense of control as both player and leader and he has a responsive band.

Originally Published