CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

Warren Wolf: Reincarnation (Mack Avenue)

A review of the vibraphonist's album paying tribute to R&B music of the '90s and those close to him

Warren Wolf, Reincarnation
The cover of Reincarnation by Warren Wolf

Warren Wolf makes a very personal statement on Reincarnation. The Baltimore-born vibraphonist looks to both his past and present, paying tribute to the R&B music he listened to while growing up in the 1990s and celebrating those dear to him. A Quiet Storm-style intro and outro featuring the smooth tones of Baltimore jazz-radio personality Marcellus “Bassman” Shepard bookend the album, and the tracks—a mix of vocal tunes and instrumentals—flow like a well-programmed radio set that offers thematic consistency yet plenty of variety.

Wolf puts his stamp on a gently swinging cover of the Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You,” featuring young vocalist Imani-Grace Cooper (a talent to watch), who sings with feeling and depth. Cooper and Shepard team for the steamy ’70s-esque boudoir ballad “In the Heat of the Night,” with the former singing lead and the latter providing Barry White-style interjections. The pair join forces again for “Sebastian and Zoë,” a sweet, loving valentine to Wolf’s two youngest children. That track is one of several on Reincarnation honoring family members; the vibraphonist composed the elegant jazz waltz “Come and Dance with Me” for his wife, a ballerina and teacher, and the brisk, lovely “For Ma” is dedicated to his late mother Celeste Wolf.

The vocal tune “Livin’ the Good Life,” written by Wolf and sung by Cooper, reflects the vibraphonist’s contented state of mind, its lyrics expressing his gratitude for the life he’s now living. And the potent jazz/R&B band jams “Vahybing” and “The Struggle” remind us that Wolf has not forsaken his well-established jazz roots.

Preview, buy or download Reincarnation on Amazon!

Lucy Tauss

Lucy Tauss is a New York City-based music journalist and longtime JazzTimes contributor. She is also a radio and audio producer/writer/editor/journalist who covers news, entertainment and everything in between.