Jazz Masters in Summit Meeting with All-Star Group live at Nighttown!
Featuring: Michael Wolff-piano, Eddie Henderson-trumpet, Ben Allison-acoustic bass, & Victor Jones-drums.
In the summer of 2015, a grueling and often bewildering four-year battle with a rare cancer had the acclaimed pianist-composer Michael Wolff on the ropes. He’d fallen into a coma at a New York hospital, and the prognosis had moved from doubtful to defeated. His sons Nat and Alex, in the midst of their ascent as two of the most talented actors of their generation, had returned home to be with their father and try to comfort him. They played guitars and sang at his bedside, tapping into the sweet, winsome gifts that had made the Wolffs a famous musical family nearly a decade earlier, via the hit TV series The Naked Brothers Band. At one point, as Wolff was being cared for by his wife, the award-winning actress, director and writer Polly Draper, a doctor asked her if she’d signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Through the haze of drugs and debilitating illness, Wolff interjected. Lifting his head up, he growled: “Resuscitate me!”
“I guess it just wasn’t my time,” he recalls today, chuckling.
Indeed, Wolff had plenty more life to live and music to make—including Swirl, his radiant new Sunnyside piano-trio album featuring bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard. Now 66 and completely free of cancer (and cancer medications), Wolff has seen his outlook transform in the profound way that occurs only in those who have been, as the pianist puts it, “to the brink and back.” “My view of life, art and music has changed, developed, matured, widened and focused simultaneously,” says Wolff.
“With my music, I still want it to be exciting, but I also really want everything to sound beautiful.” The essential component of that beauty lies in the pianist’s writing and arranging, which is at once inventive and evocative of your favorite jazz LPs.
Jazz trumpeter extraordinaire Eddie Henderson received his first informal lesson on the trumpet at the age of 9 from Louis Armstrong. As a teenager he studied trumpet at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and performed with the San Francisco Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. In 1957, Eddie met Miles Davis for the first time. As a family friend, Miles has been a major musical influence on Eddie throughout his life. That culminated in May of 2002 with the recording of So What, a tribute to Miles that features songs associated with the legend.
In addition to excelling on his instrument, Eddie excelled academically enough to go to medical school and become a doctor.
He received his first major musical exposure as a member of Herbie Hancock’s trailblazing Mwandishi sextet, an ensemble that also included young innovators such as Bennie Maupin, Julian Priester, Buster Williams and Billy Hart.
After leaving Hancock, the trumpeter worked extensively with Pharoah Sanders, Norman Connors and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
Eddie has also performed with such notables as Dexter Gordon, Roy Haynes, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson, Elvin Jones, Johnny Griffin, Slide Hampton, Benny Golson, Max Roach and McCoy Tyner.