Canada has spawned still another excellent jazz performer, this time jazz vocalist Vincent Wolfe. Wolfe was exposed to jazz at an early age by his father, who worked for Mercury Records, his mother, who performed as a singer during the 1950s, and a guitarist uncle who worked, albeit briefly, with Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday when they were gigging in Canada. Because his father worked for Mercury, Wolfe had access to albums of great artists from that label's stable, including Dinah Washington, Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan, and Billy Eckstine, all of whom influenced his singing style. Wolfe also cites Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, and Sam Cooke, among others, as influences.
Rather than a formal musical education, Wolfe opted for private lessons from Alan Paul of the Manhattan Transfer. Wolfe's jazz career started in 1987 in Toronto with a jazz vocal group called Fifth Avenue. It recorded for CBS, but the album was never released. His fledgling career got its biggest boost from the late Phyllis Hyman, who not only introduced him to major jazz figures but mentored him on his singing and on the business side of jazz. Wolfe's first album Trust the Vibe, which he cut for Counterpoint, is dedicated to Hyman's memory.
Wolfe has worked the club circuit and performed in the U.S. with Jean Carne, Angela Bofill, Norman Connors, and Miki Howard at such jazz settings as Blues Alley in Washington DC, Sculler's in Boston, The Trafalmadore in Buffalo, New York, Chene Park Amphitheatre in Detroit, Michigan and the Concert Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. Wolfe also appeared with Marlena Shaw at the 1997 Ottawa Jazz Festival. With his soft but effective delivery, his ability to swing and to caress a slow ballad, Wolfe has the vocal tools to be ranked high on the male jazz vocalist roster which has become rather thin over the last few years and could use some good new blood. ~ Dave Nathan, Rovi