Till They Lay Me Down
"Till They Lay Me Down" is a debut of multi-instrumentalist and composer David Wise. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Wise went to Oberlin College as well as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied under Gary Bartz. Now Resident in Los Angeles, he regularly plays with the quartet featured on this: Bruce Forman, guitar: Alex Frank, bass; and Jake Reed, drums, while he is on baritone and tenor sax here. Also on this session are special guests Jason Joseph, Laura Mace, Josh Smith, Mitchell Cooper, Glenn Morrissette, R.W. Enoch, Amy K. Bormet, and Mikala Schmitz.
In his liner notes, Wise quotes Gary Bartz "If I'm locked into a category, I'm in a room with walls around me.But music is the universe.' This explains the variety of the performances here that open with a jazzy piece of soul "What More Could One Man Want?" sung by Jason Joseph, with Amy K.Bormet adding electric piano and horns fill the backing with an strong sax break and a fiery blues-rock styled guitar solo from Josh Smith. His quartet is augmented by a cellist for his lovely ballad written for his grandmother "Sylvia," which is where he emerges as a marvelous ballad player with a feathery tone while Forman's chording adding nice accents. It is followed by a lengthier performance, a lovely interpretation of the standard, "Here's That Rainy Day," dedicated to his grandfather with most of his playing being the middle register of the tenor and with Forman adding a fleet, lyrical solo.
"Home" is another ballad that Forman introduces before a ruminative Wise solo with lovely chording by Forman with soft backing from the rhythm. A most unusual selection is the traditional Jewish Yom Kippur prayer "Kol Nidre" that is played on the baritone, and then followed by the title track, a low-key, moody blues performance. "Lullaby" is an aptly titled short performance. It is followed by the closing tracks , "Life is But a Song," starts as a dreamy song which he sings over his saxophone with cello added to the quartet, transitioning into an upbeat celebration well he tells us how happy life is. It is a buoyant end to a recording full of warm saxophone and fresh, simple melodies. David Wise impresses on his debut.
I received my review copy from a publicist. His website is http://www.davidgwise.com. This review appeared in the Jnauary-February Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 370). Here is a video of David Wise performing.