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Wolff at the Door

Jazz trio knocks out oldies on the fly.


New Orleans-born pianist Michael Wolff admits he felt like a lumberjack as he cherry-picked tunes for his latest CD, jazz, JAZZ, jazz. The disc harvests nine American standards, including "Autumn Leaves," "My Funny Valentine," and "Cry Me a River." "It's like going into the forest of sound," says Wolff, who joins bassist Eric Udell and drummer Victor Jones onstage for two shows tonight in Cleveland Heights. "You pick out these certain trees you want to accentuate."Recorded during a daylong studio session in 2001, the collection also includes remakes of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," Miles Davis' "Solar," and the little-known Ron Carter number "Einbahnstrasse." Wolff insists his trio didn't rehearse any of the tracks before they riffed each seat-of-the-pants arrangement. And he's not about to freak out if jazz traditionalists call his bluff on the improvising. "I haven't gotten much feedback from anybody saying, 'You didn't do this song right,'" says Wolff, who was the bandleader on The Arsenio Hall Show in the late '80s. "Most people are just glad that anybody's playing them at all." Wolff's trio performs at 8 and 9:30 tonight at Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $20. Call 216-795-0550 or visit
Wed., Nov. 14, 7 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 15, 8 p.m., 2007

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