by Jim Santella

His contemporary flair recalls Miles Davis, as trumpeter Willie Waldman takes the listener for a wild ride through fresh territory. A backbeat drum set, throbbing electric bass and swirling keyboards color each of the leader’s compositions with power. Waldman’s rich tone provides a healthy sound that captures your ear from start to finish. His driven technique allows the soloist to express a variety of moods. When muted tightly, Waldman’s trumpet resonates with a spiritual quality. When playing wide open, his pure tone espouses beauty. Live Davis, he prefers a majesty of style that emphasizes noble ideals. His “Spanish Knights” and “Marching Man,” for example, provide the image of an ensemble with heads held high in respect for the music. Straightforward and direct, Waldman’s melodies honor tradition. This contrasts with echo-laden interlopers such as “Sunset” and “Ursa Major,” that emit pop rhythms and sparks of unraveled mystery. Guitarist Woody Aplanalp and pianist Greg Kurstin contribute powerful rock elements as well as consonant ballad support. Each one solos’ with the same wildness espoused by the leader. Waldman’s trumpet recalls the contemporary spirit of Miles Davis, while bringing fresh ideas to his program. The influence of rock music and Spanish classical music pervades an emotional session. Recommended, Waldman’s debut wraps a new voice around traditional spirits.