Now 75, pianist Mike Wofford got his grounding in jazz in L.A. in the 1950s, playing with the legendary Lighthouse All-Stars and many other players of that exciting era. Several years as a studio musician led to working with drummer Shelly Manne for a decade, and then as Sarah Vaughan’s accompanist before fulfilling the same function for Ella Fitzgerald for several years. He then went on to play with Joe Henderson, Phil Woods and many others before forming his own trio. On this solo recording, we get Wofford all by himself exploring a mix of tunes that includes several of his own compositions, such as the title track, a beautifully relaxed reminiscence. “Cole Porter,” another of his originals, bursts with the sort of vitality that the famous composer brought out in his music. Pianists are noted for celebrating each other in music and Wofford’s “Hines Catch-up” is his tribute to Earl “Fatha” Hines. Gigi Gryce’s “Nica’s Tempo” gets a vigorous interpretation, while Dizzy Gillespie’s “I Waited for You” and Larry Koonse’s “Candle” are both quiet ruminations. A remarkably cohesive set of eloquently rendered tunes.
Mike Wofford performs at the Oregon Coast Jazz Party in Newport, Ore., Oct. 4-6. Visit www.oregoncoastjazzparty.org for info.