dtrcd178.jpg (35233 bytes) Craig Wuepper - The Returnsman

DTRCD - 178

Eric Alexander - Tenor Sax, Mike Dirubbo - Alto Sax, Ryan Kisor - Trumpet, Mike LeDonne - Piano, John Webber - Bass, Craig Wuepper - Drums

1. New Scene - C. Wuepper 6:38
2. The Returnsman - C. Wuepper 6:34
3. The Jitterbug Waltz - F. Waller
4. We’ll Be Together Again - C. Fischer/F. Laine
5. Savoy Song - C. Wuepper
6. Clear The Way - C. Wuepper
7. Fried Pies - Wes Montgomery
8. Zingaro - A.C. Jobim
9. The Best Thing For You - I. Berlin

Listen to CD Tracks

     Craig Wuepper wants to swing and he can! I first learned of Craig’s desires and his abilities when he studied Jazz History with me at Rutgers in 1994. In my classroom, Mr. Wuepper wanted to learn and he did! I lost track of Craig - he had transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, where he would graduate in 1997 - but I ran into him again before the degree was conferred.

It was at the Country Day School, which seems out of place on Manhattan’s East 96th Street. I was there to give out the school’s special awards to Wynton Marsalis and Jazz Pastor, John Gensel. I shared a moment with Wytnon digging one of the combos that played that night. The drummer was Craig Wuepper!

A subsequent awards ceremony there also used my services and I was told to acknowledge a student musician who had gotten a special award. Everybody at the event told me how much I was going to enjoy this young drummer

It was Craig Wuepper! And the award was a prestigious one from Downbeat Magazine.

I was impressed and continue to be so. The thing that separates Craig Wuepper from his generation of drummers who do swing (rare skill that it may be), is Craig’s control of dynamics.

Mr Wuepper can swing a band at low volume and in an acoustic environment. At the now lamented, Savoy Lounge, I heard Craig add impact - subtly, and it was needed - to a number of singers’ performances, so that the Jazz content of their acts were enhanced but that the spotlight was never taken from them, or even shared.

On this bandstand of his own record date, Craig Wuepper now comes front and center stage. He takes the wraps off more than once, but that delicate swing with controlled dynamics is still in place and is still his special charm. Craig Wuepper often swings low, but he carries a big stick.

And - watch out - Craig Wuepper wants to compose and he does.

There are four originals here plus Craig’s arrangement (with excellent reverence for the melody) of Jobim’s “Zingaro”. The cats who play here with Craig are originals too, though they play in Jazz’s mainstream. Mike LeDonne touched the heart and music of the late Milt Jackson while playing with Bags for over a decade. Eric Alexander was a member of the last edition of Arthur Taylor’s Wailors. John Webber grooves Griffin and Ryan Kisor plays first class trumpet alongside Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center. Mike Dirubbo, of which more is to be heard, is the uncredited reed player on the last batch of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives ... Vas you dere, Charlie?

Well I was there when Craig Wuepper was just starting and it’s great to hear him all growed up and swinging!

Phil Schaap Multi-Grammy Winner, who now teaches Jazz at Princeton