Brad Wheeler

The Future Was Yesterday

origin 82449

MUSIC REVIEW BY Rev, The Kurt Elling Forum


Wanting to stock up on as much of Laurence's playing as I could get before his move out to NY, I asked him at the last Mill show if his Catch 35 gig was still going. He recommended that I hit Klas Restaurant in Cicero that Saturday afternoon, as Brad Wheeler had set up a gig there. This was quite the unique experience. Wheeler, as most of you remember, is often on the Tenor for Elling shows and recordings, and has that memorable melody and solo on "Where I Belong." The show included Brad, Laurence and Rob. They played two and a half great sets, joking with the wait staff (who kept requesting Elvis Presley and Englebert Humperdink songs.) Rob suggest they do "You ain't nothin' but a pair of Blue Suede Shoes" and Laurence even comped the head to a new piece "Wise men say 'Do you hear what I hear?'" It was two and a half sets because about a song into the third, a fiftieth wedding anniversary party invaded the room, set up an aluminum garden arch, nearly destroyed a chandalier and turned Brad's CD selling table into a signing table for a commemorative plate. At least I got to buy Brad's CD, the release party for which you'll remember he invited us all to earlier this year. I've had a chance to listen to it a few times now, and I have to put it on the "must have" list for any Kurt and Laurence fans. First things first, no, there are no vocal tracks. These are all Brad's original compositions. His rhythm section is the Laurence Hobgood Trio circa 2002 (for those of you keeping track that was when Frank was on drums) and has the considerable guitar talents of John Moulder rounding out the sound. These are nine great tunes, featuring everything great you've come to expect from this circle of musicians, but putting them into a freer modern jazz context. It puts me in mind of Kenny Kirkland's self titled album, or some of the Marsalis brothers various works, but with a more serious attention to harmony and feel. "When One Has Peace" is a comfortably perfect selection for a romantic evening, while "Journey After Hours" showcases the saxman's virtuosity and contemporaneity. Everywhere, Rob and Laurence either build a perfect foundation or walk and solo their parts with their predictable brilliance (I'm sorry-I've run out of superlatives for these two.) In any case, Brad has this gig at Klas every now and then, and it looks like Moulder has a leader gig at times there too, so if you make it into Chicago on a weekend and feel like getting some Czech food (resisting the "check it out" play on words here) and jazz, definitely get out to Cicero. It's like a piece of the puzzle that contains another complete picture within.





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