Ben Wolfe turns in a nice set of originals here in Murray's Cadillac. In his brief but helpful liner notes, Wolfe describes this music as "Chamber music within a jazz context" and informs us that many of these pieces were "Written as film music without the film." These observations are very helpful in understanding the music on this CD, a collection of scenes and thumbnail sketches seemingly related to bigger pictures.
Wolfe is best known as a former bassist for both Diana Krall and Harry Connick, Jr. Here he plays both bass and piano and there is nary a lyric to be found; only "Elegy" features a vocal, the haunting soprano of Janet Chavatal. These compositions are rooted in the sounds of the 1940's & 50's, though, as suggested by song titles like "Be-bop Number," "Monk's Choice" and "5th Column." The vintage feel is intensified by the production values of the recording, made with an enticing bit of hiss to the drums and other instruments that subliminally takes you back to another era.
Not that any of this is exactly rehashed, and the integration of such instruments as the flugelhorn and cello into the jazz context is certainly welcome. Wolfe uses shades of be-bop, film noir and cool jazz to paint twenty-one unique, mostly short, episodes of jazz on this, his third CD of original music. While the album manages to convey a consistent sense of purpose and the overall atmosphere of the work is intriguing, too many of the individual pieces fail to get much past the idea stage for me to consider this a great album. It does make for rewarding listening, however, and should be pleasing to those listeners, such as myself, who have been curious as to what kind of sounds Ben Wolfe would create when left to his own devices.