Chip White: Harlem Sunset (2006)
Chip White has a hell of a band here, but the fact that he provided it with almost an entire programme of stimulating material is what makes this a disc worth frequently returning to. Additionally, the quartet of White, Gary Bartz, Steve Nelson and Buster Williams offers such a captivating reading of "I Want To Talk About You" that the overall effect is one of enduring pleasure, and that's only enhanced by the presence of Claudio Roditi's "We (To Kristen And Me)"; those are the only two tracks not composed by White.
There's been much discussion over the years regarding the benefits or otherwise of digital recording. Here there is clarity and depth of a rare order. Every musician is caught in what might be called his natural musical state, and the likes of White's "The Wizard" seems somehow only enhanced by this quality.
It might be more than coincidence that two members of the current incarnation of Dave Holland's quintet are present here, especially when their contributions are so telling. Robin Eubanks has arguably his best outing on "The Wizard," working well within the comparatively difficult rhythmic makeup of the piece, while Nelson generally does his cause no harm at all as both an economical accompanist and a soloist, especially on "Circle Dance," where Bartz proves his work on soprano sax is every bit as distinctive as his alto sax playing.
The engine room of White and Buster Williams is both propulsive and complementary. At every turn they nail a groove and provide a propulsive beat, as per their work behind Roditi on "Circle Dance." Additionally, White's solos have such an organic feel that they complement the flow of the music, rather than impede it.
It's clear from the first minute that this music and this band came together, and the result is almost an hour of stimulating music that avoids all the clichés in making its time-honoured point.
Track Listing: Another Planet; Excuse Me Now; I Want To Talk About You; Club 609; The Wizard; Circle Dance; We (To Kristen And Me); Harlem Sunset.
Personnel: Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Gary Bartz: alto, soprano saxophone; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Buster Williams: bass; Chip White; drums.