In jazz performance, it never hurts to be a multi-instrumentalist. In addition to the satisfaction of being able to express oneself in a variety of sounds, the payoff can often be counted in a greater assortment of gigs.
Warren Wolf, who plays Bohemian Caverns on Friday and Saturday nights with his jazz quartet, Wolfpack, knows the feeling.
"I have been immersed in music -- vibraphone, marimba and drums -- since I was a child," he said. "I practiced five days a week for 90 minutes and took Saturday lessons."
|» Where: Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW|
|» When: 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday|
|» Info: $20 and $25; 202-299-0800; bohemiancaverns.com|
At his mother's gentle insistence and under his father's guidance he studied all genres of music, including classical composers Bach, Beethoven and Mozart; ragtime performance from the songbooks of Scott Joplin; and, finally, jazz composition and performance from the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Bobby Hutcherson, to name a few. After studying eight years at Peabody Preparatory and four years at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Wolf headed north to Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating in 2001. In addition to teaching, he became an active musician on Boston's local scene.
After two years of teaching at Berklee, Wolf headed home to Baltimore to pursue full-time performance. The breaks came quickly, and before long he was touring, performing and recording with many of the luminaries he studied, such as Wynton Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut and Kevin Eubanks.
Today, he continues to perform a mix of each of percussion -- piano, vibraphone, marimba and drums. Which instrument and which time depends on the particular situation.
"There are times when I'm writing music that I can only imagine myself playing drums to define the rhythm," he explained. "Then there are other times when I like to be guy in front, playing my vibes."
This weekend at Bohemian Caverns, he'll be front and center on those vibes, along with members of Wolfpack; bass player Kris Funn, pianist Alex Brown and drummer Billy Williams.
"We'll hear music from my latest album, simply titled 'Warren Wolf' and we'll probably do some feel-good numbers I've written," he said. "I like to get people involved and make sure they have a good time."
And it never hurts, along with variety, to also make them comfortable with all the sounds.
"That's what I intend on doing," he said.