"Wolfe implements gritty, souped-up electric leads on “Mindbend” yet playfully disrupts the momentum with odd-metered passages along with a straight-ahead swing groove."
One of the most prolific jazz guitarists and educators emanating out of the Southeastern region of the United States, Tom Wolfe makes his well-timed debut as a solo artist with this new release titled, Simple Peace. Not only has Wolfe performed with legendary guitarist Mundel Lowe and more recently on fellow Southerners Ken and Harry Watters’ excellent new release Brothers II, (See June ’00 AAJ review) but was also appointed as a “Kennedy Center” jazz ambassador. Here, the guitarist and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Alabama – steps out on his own while garnering strong and sympathetic support from a top-notch band. The album commences with a sprightly nod to guitarist Pat Metheny on “It Is Time” as Wolfe melds rapid chord progressions with elegantly performed mid-toned electric lines while also turning up the heat in tandem with pianist Bill Peterson’s lush melodies. Wolfe implements gritty, souped-up electric leads on “Mindbend” yet playfully disrupts the momentum with odd-metered passages along with a straight-ahead swing groove. Hence, the guitarist displays a fertile imagination along with convincing chops! The band indulges in some clever improvisational maneuvers on the somewhat rambunctious piece, “Go With The Flow” as the guitarist goes head to head with drummer Mark Lanter for a vivacious polyrhythmic encounter whereas Wolfe exhibits some good old country charm on the aptly titled composition, “Appalachia”. With this piece, the guitarist commingles deft C&W style picking with rock rhythms and lucid jazz grooves along with Oteil Burnbridge’s limber electric bass soloing. Wolfe finalizes the proceedings with his acoustic and predominately grassroots ballad, "Pueblo”. Overall, Simple Peace is a fine and thoroughly memorable freshman effort from a guitarist/composer who exhibits the necessary ingredients for long term success. Recommended! - Glenn Astarita