Expedition 2 (Random Act Records)

Wolff & Clark Expedition

Released February 24, 2015

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






For their second release on Random Act Records, The Wolff & Clark Expedition, pianist Michael Wolff and drummer Mike Clark, are joined by the most sought-after bass player in jazz: Christian McBride. He shares bass duties with the young phenom Daryl Johns. Both bassists lock with drummer Clark to form tight, creative and cooking rhythm tandems. Completing the band is rising star saxophonist Hailey Niswanger and trumpet hero Wallace Roney. This Red Album, Expedition 2, captures the W&C Expedition at the peak of their prowess. They continue their brave musical explorations via a diverse array of tunes by Cream (Sunshine Of Your Love, swung mightily, with Christian copping a deep groove), Johnny Carisi (the classic Israel in a very hip arrangement), Monk (a playfully buoyant Monks Dream and a propulsive In Walked Bud), Prince (1999, tastefully mellow and swinging, with a searing soprano solo by Hailey), and Dizzy (A Night In Tunisia done the W&C way, with Wallace blowing with abandon). The originals impress, too — Clark Bar, Wolffs tribute to a certain drummer, showcases the trios chops with McBride in tow; Madiba, in honor of Nelson Mandela, is a mini-suite, a masterwork; Stray, written by Wolff for fellow pianist Billy Strayhorn, is a tear-jerker of a ballad; and Mulgrew, composed for yet another departed piano giant, is swinging affair with McBride laying it down. W&C get even more adventurous by performing a couple duets, just piano and drums. They take Jimmy Heaths Gingerbread Boy to impressionistic new heights, and they reveal the depths of Ornette Colemans Invisible. The Wolff & Clark Expedition continues their journey of musical excellence.

Track Listing:

1. Clark Bar (M. Wolff) 07:37

2. Sunshine of Your Love (P.R. Brown / Jack Bruce / Eric Clapton) 04:37

3. Israel (John Carisi) 04:08

4. Madiba (M. Wolff) 08:28

5. Monk’s Dream (Thelonious Monk) 05:26

6. Stray (M. Wolff) 04:55

7. Gingerbread Boy (J. Heath) 03:13

8. Mulgrew (M. Wolff) 06:23

9. 1999 (Prince) 04:56

10. A Night In Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie / Frank Paparelli) 05:50

11. Invisible (O. Coleman) 03:30

12. In Walked Bud (Thelonious Monk) 05:25


Michael Wolff: piano
Mike Clark: drums
Christian McBride: bass (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 12)
Daryl Johns: bass (3, 4, 9, 10)
Hailey Niswanger: saxophones (2, 3, 4, 9, 10)
Wallace Roney: trumpet (4, 10)

Recorded at Sear Sound, New York, NY (tracks 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11); Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 12)

Producer: Scott Elias

Mixing and Mastering: Kendal Thomsen

Photography: Seth Cashman


The longstanding colleagues and jazz veterans teamed up in 2012 for some potent performances around their home base of New York City and followed up with their self-titled debut in 2013. This sequel, which also features bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Wallace Roney, rising star saxophonist Hailey Niswanger and 17-year-old bass sensation Daryl Johns, takes things up a notch. Like on their previous outing, Wolff and Clark have their way with pop and jazz standards, and on this one the hip quotient is off the scale. They swing Cream’s “Sunshine Of You Love” in a way that Ginger Baker would hardly recognize, while turning Prince’s “1999” into a lyrical and swinging vehicle for newcomer Niswanger’s soprano sax. Their re-imagining of “Monk’s Dream” has the drummer incorporating his slickest, most syncopated drum patterns since “Actual Proof.” McBride digs in on a formidable solo on Wolff’s “Clark Bar,” while Roney contributes some bristling trumpet lines on Wolff’s ambitious arrangement of “A Night In Tunisia.” They close out in swinging fashion with a 7/4 take on Monk’s “In Walked Bud” that features another outstanding McBride solo and a whirlwind drum solo by Clark. Drum students will have enough to shed on for years from this superhip Wolff & Clark showcase.

Bill Milkowski (DownBeat)