Photos | Vibin’ with Warren Wolf at the Turkish ambassador’s pad

Baltimore vibraphone star Warren Wolf led a quartet through some blistering swing and a brooding take on Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life. Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop

by Giovanni Russonello
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Warren Wolf is one of the brightest stars to emerge from Baltimore or Washington in the past decade. He is a member of Christian McBride’s renowned combo, Inside Straight, and has recorded with greats from Bobby Watson to Jeremy Pelt. On June 7, the Charm City native brought his own group of Baltimore-Washington straght-ahead titans to the Turkish ambassador’s residence. Over some brooding (“Lush Life”) and blistering (“Just One of those Things”) standards, as well as originals, Wolf let his Milt Jackson influence show, injecting some minor-blues flavor with quickness and precision. The guy is clearly one of his generation’s best.

The show was part of the Ertegun Jazz Series, which has held three monthly concerts so far. It celebrates the work of Nehusi and Ahmet Ertegun, two future record producers and music moguls who grew up at the Turkish ambassador’s residence (their father was the diplomat, after all) during segregation times, and broke with local custom by bringing together Black and white musicians for informal jam sessions there.

On June 7, Wolf stuck to the vibraphone, although he’s also a consummate pianist and drummer. (He had his bases covered, with an excellent backing band that featured Janelle Gill on piano, Herman Burney on bass and John Lamkin III on drums.) This August, look for Wolf’s new, self-titled LP, his first on Mack Avenue Records, which finds him playing all three instruments. For now, here’s a collection of shots by Staff Photographer Carlyle V. Smith from the embassy show (which, you’ll notice, featured a very special guest in the audience).

All photos by Carlyle V. Smith/CapitalBop. Find more of his work at soulfotography.com.

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