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Top Five Radio Hit! “The Hip Quotient is Off The Scale” -- ‘Wolff & Clark Expedition 2’ Earns 4.5 Star Down Beat Review, Surges at Jazz Radio
(Published: April 16, 2015)

Top Five Radio Hit! "The Hip Quotient is Off The Scale"

‘Wolff & Clark Expedition 2' Earns 4.5 Star Down Beat Review, Surges at Jazz Radio

With a Top Five album at Jazz Radio and a 4.5 star CD review in the new issue of DownBeat (courtesy of veteran critic Bill Milkowski) respected co-band leaders Michael Wolff (piano) and Mike Clark (drums) have much to celebrate with their acclaimed album Wolff & Clark Expedition 2, newly released on Random Act Records. The two legendary jazz performers, known for their wit, inventiveness and remarkable chops, have mined the talents of luminaries Christian McBride and Wallace Roney on the new CD, as well as young bassist Daryl Johns and rising star saxophonist Hailey Niswanger (who was recently featured by NPR).

More about the album and artists, excerpted from the band's Radio One-Sheet: W&C2 features bassist CHRISTIAN McBRIDE, as well as young bassist DARYL JOHNS, trumpet giant WALLACE RONEY and rising jazz star saxophonist HAILEY NISWANGER, EXPEDITION 2 includes tunes from Monk, Ornette Coleman, Prince, Cream, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath and Johnny Carisi, as well as formidable originals by Wolff and Clark. The leaders sizzle on two Piano/Drums duets on Tracks 7 & 11. Invention, chops, soul and powerful rhythms are the hallmark of this group. Building upon their last RAR outing, their first EXPEDITION with bassist Chip Jackson, WOLFF & CLARK continue to deconstruct familiar tunes to create their own unique versions. There are four Trio tunes with McBride: Wolff's opener, "CLARK BAR," an obvious homage to his partner, swings mightily; "MONK'S DREAM" is a funky romp; "STRAY" is Wolff's gorgeous ballad for Billy Strayhorn; and "IN WALKED BUD" burns from beginning to end, even in a complicated time signature.
Cream's "SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE" is indicative of the W&C approach: With Niswanger on alto, the rock opus becomes pure up-tempo jazz. "ISRAEL" is given a compelling arrangement, with Clark playing without sticks at the onset, Wolff digging the blues and Niswanger wailing away. The Mikes' nod to Nelson Mandela, "MADIBA," shines a light on the great Wallace Roney - Almost a mini-suite, it tracks the South African icon's life and travails. The alto/trumpet parts are reminiscent of Wolff's former employers, Cannonball and Nat Adderley. Roney blows the roof off on Dizzy's tune, too...Prince's pop tune is utterly transformed into a seriously enjoyable, musical ‘event' with Wolff waxing Bulgarian and Niswanger wielding her soprano.
With their years of experience playing with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Nancy Wilson, Joe Henderson and others, the WOLFF & CLARK EXPEDITION continues to inspire and to explore broad swaths of musical territories.                                                                 


When two of the best musicians on the planet combine their estimable talents to create a band without boundaries, the result is the WOLFF & CLARK EXPEDITION. These sonic explorers embrace the past, venture into the future, but remain rooted in the improvisatory present. Pianist MICHAEL WOLFF and Drummer MIKE CLARK -- the Wolff & Clark Expedition -- recently released their second album on Random Act Records. Featuring jazz luminaries like bass stalwart CHRISTIAN McBRIDE and trumpeter WALLACE RONEY, the new album's personnel also reflect the future of the music: Rising star saxophonist HAILEY NISWANGER and 17-year-old bassist extraordinaire DARYL JOHNS join the Expedition for a journey to uncharted musical territories.

Continuing on the path forged on their first self-titled project, "Wolff & Clark Expedition 2" offers more ingenious versions of unique cover tunes as well as beguiling original compositions. Songs as diverse as Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," Prince's chart-topping "1999," Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" and "Monk's Dream," and Dizzy Gillespie's anthem "Night in Tunisia" are all given the distinctive Expedition treatment. The band reinvents these tunes with their own rhythmic and harmonic flair, creating performances both fresh and familiar.

Wolff & Clark perform two dazzling duets (piano and drums) on Jimmy Heath's opus "Gingerbread Boy" and Ornette Coleman's "Invisible," resulting in audacious yet accessible versions that define both master musicians. Wolff's compelling melodic inventions and harmonic daring comingle with Clark's innovative rhythmic sensibilities to establish the essence of the Expedition: Pure imagination and fire.

Mike Clark illuminates the group's penchant for reinterpretation: "It's fun to take tunes from different genres, deconstruct them, put a different spin on the music, and make them our own. Michael is really great at it - He suggested ‘1999' and I thought of ‘Sunshine of Your Love.' Audiences love it; they can relate to the music!"

A gifted composer, Michael Wolff contributes stellar compositions to the proceedings. His tribute to his late friend and fellow pianist, "Mulgrew," burns with passion; his nod to Ellington's cohort, "Stray," captures the beauty and poignancy of Mr. Strayhorn; and his sizzling "Clark Bar" is an appropriately energetic homage to his partner. Wolff & Clark's ultimate heartfelt creation is "Madiba," their collaborative paean to Nelson Mandela. With this epic tonal poem, listeners are taken on an extraordinary adventure; the piece exemplifies the talents and souls of Michael and Mike.

Often performing together since the 1970's, both Wolff and Clark have each had stellar music careers. Michael Wolff is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and bandleader. He made his recording debut in 1972 with Cal Tjader, and went on to record and perform with Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Nancy Wilson, Sonny Rollins, Tony Williams, Warren Zevon, Jean-Luc Ponty and many others. As pianist and music director for jazz singer Nancy Wilson, Michael wrote orchestral arrangements and conducted more than twenty-five major symphony orchestras worldwide. From 1989 to 1994, Michael garnered notoriety as the Musical Director for the Arsenio Hall Show, which gave him the opportunity to perform with established artists such as Ray Charles, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and saxophonist/President Bill Clinton. In addition to numerous sessions as a sideman, Michael Wolff has released twelve critically acclaimed albums as a leader, he was a recipient of the BMI Music Award for television composition and was also the winner of the "Gold Disc Award" in Japan for his album "Jumpstart," with Tony Williams and Christian McBride. He and his wife, actress/writer/director Polly Draper, produced an acclaimed feature film, "The Tic Code," featuring Gregory Hines, as well as "The Naked Brothers Band" movie. Their "Naked Brothers" effort spawned a long-running TV show featuring their award-winning actor/musician sons, Nat and Alex. Michael is currently the Chairman of the Board of the national Tourette Syndrome Association.

Drummer Mike Clark is a true percussion legend - He gained worldwide recognition as one of America's foremost jazz and funk drummers while touring and recording with Herbie Hancock and The Headhunters in the early 1970's. Mike became known as a major innovator through his incisive technique, original beats and his ability to combine the jazz aesthetic with the soul of funk music. He is undoubtedly one of the most vital musicians to ever sit behind a drum kit. During his legendary career, he has performed with Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Bennett, Christian McBride, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Donald Harrison, Vince Guaraldi, Chet Baker, Larry Coryell, Eddie Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Dave Liebman, Oscar Brown Jr., Gil Evans and his Orchestra and a host of others. Mike is possibly the most-sampled drummer of the digital age; his beats are omnipresent in several genres, including rap, hip/hop and funk. A leader of several solo projects, in 2010 his superb outing, "Blueprints of Jazz - Vol. 1" was selected as one of the best jazz CD's of the decade. Mike is currently finishing his forthcoming solo CD "Indigo Blue," featuring Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Donald Harrison, Rob Dixon and Antonio Farao.

Both Mikes state: "Together, we have years of combined experience playing with many of the greatest jazz artists of all time, so we share an innate understanding as to how to play at a consistently very high level, with a mutual feel for improvised music. Since we both spent time in the Bay Area, and since we've been friends and band mates for many years, The Expedition is a natural result of our shared, cumulative experiences."

Together they bring a combination of swing and groove to unique deconstructive takes on classic jazz, popular standards, and original compositions, creating a freedom in the sound that electrifies listeners and audiences worldwide. With their vast collective experience, the Wolff & Clark Expedition defies boundaries of genre, age and gender, showcasing the brilliant newcomer Hailey Niswanger. The young saxophonist (alto and soprano) has already shared stages with Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, James Moody, DeeDee Bridgewater and George Duke. A daring player, she intrepidly joins the Expedition.

"We strive to take all listeners on unparalleled musical journeys, to unexplored sonic realms," say Wolff & Clark. "And our band is highly entertaining, without compromising the music!" The incomparable Michael Wolff and Mike Clark are musicians who constantly deliver the highest quality music with the inimitable humor and rapport reserved for best friends.
On their Expedition, the possibilities are limitless...

Read Evan Haga's JazzTimes Magazine review of their 2013 debut CD: http://jazztimes.com/articles/96928-michael-wolff-mike-clark-wolff-clark-expedition

visit: https://www.facebook.com/WolffClarkExpedition

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