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Mike Holober: Wish List

Wish List is almost too tidy for jazz, yet it works. The program is two standards (“Blackbird” and “Nancy”) plus seven varied, melodically fresh, harmonically sophisticated Mike Holober originals. Each track is meticulously arranged and polished until it sparkles. Solos fill planned spaces within complete, proportional forms.

It works because Holober has taste-as composer, arranger, pianist and especially as bandleader, where he makes impeccable personnel decisions. No current rhythm section in jazz combines power and cunning like John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Tim Ries is one of the subtlest, most elegant of jazz improvisers; when he cuts loose and wails (like on “Conundrum”) it is a special kind of rush. Guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel fits Holober’s band because he is creative and concise.

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