Just listening to the no-boundaries, acoustic jazz quintet Peter Lamb and The Wolves, you might guess that it formed to celebrate Truman's inauguration, not Obama's. Called into existence in 2008 to play Humble Pie's presidential party, the band that resulted was just too good to leave be. Nowadays, living up to their fairy-tale namesakes, the Wolves peddle languid sophistication that is always a little bit dangerous. Their repertoire reaches back to New Orleans' earliest syncopaters but also forward to hipster bards like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits; a tango might trip on the heels of a French waltz or a Russian folk song. The Wolves are sought out by swing dancers, but their tenderer tunes make the perfect nightcap for late-night lovers.
Five highly trained jazz musicians-who sound like seven-are at the heart of the quintet's intimate chemistry. Lamb leads on tenor saxophone, aided by Al Strong on trumpet, Stephen Coffman on drums, and two musicians doing double duty-troubadour Mark Wells on vocals and piano, and George Knott handling upright bass as well as the elephantine bass saxophone. Wells' vocal-high and round with just enough gravel to grab hold of some blues-is a double-boiler that can safely melt chocolate. Coffman paints an urbane jungle with his drumset textures, while horns flare and taper, of one mind yet independent. It takes discipline to know exactly when to relax and let loose, but everybody here knows what they're doing, soloing with the panache of a jam session.
"We're not the kind of jazz musicians that are just listening to jazz. We really want to play whatever the heck song we like to play," says Wells. "That's the vibe: If it's good, let it ride." -Sylvia Pfeiffenberger
PLAW SELECTED AS ON OF THREE "MUST-SEE SETS" AT THE UPCOMING SHAKORI HILLS FESTIVAL
INDY: BEST OF THE TRIANGLE 2011 : JAZZ GROUP
INDY: The five members of Peter Lamb's Wolves stretch their techniques - and the boundaries of their jazz
At first glance, one might suspect a jazz quintet like Peter Lamb and The Wolves - well-dressed men playing superficially familiar jazz in low-lit Triangle haunts - of aiming for a nostalgia niche. But listen closely: These new arrangements of swing, blues and jazz from the 1920s to the 1960s are anything but museum pieces. And, as the Wolves put it, they tote a "bizarro" repertoire - T. Rex and Tom Waits sit alongside Russian folk songs and video game music. The Wolves' appeal outstrips considerations of genre, or generation.........continued....
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WUNC:The State of Things
Saxophonist Peter Lamb had little choice but to like jazz. He grew up in a household where jazz records substituted for TV as entertainment. Over the years, he's played and recorded with musicians like Ben Folds and with bands like The Fleshtones and now Lamb is the bandleader on his own project for the first time. He brings his swinging, jazz influenced sound to the studio to play live for host Frank Stasio and talk about assembling his quintet called Peter Lamb and the Wolves. [LISTEN NOW]