Carl Allen / Rodney Whitaker: Get Ready (2007)
Let's start at the very beginning: it's Allen's original "La Shea's Walk, and it surely slides ahead in the groove of "Fever." It's a solid gas all the way through, with Allen and Whitaker setting the pace of this sexy lady. Funky and out-front are guitarist Rodney Jones and saxophonist Steve Wilson, hearkening back to the best shuffle feel of soul with more than a hint of the blues.
The Smokey Robinson/Temptations title tune is so sexy it's palpable. It's part of the past of these men and they let you know it without knocking it into your face. Cyrus Chestnut is part of this groove too, and his solo wanders all over the piano to make its eminently soulful point. Whitaker quietly combines virtuosity with a lovely sense of where to be at all times; his solo is short, smart and ever to the point.
The Motown past is back for "Inner City Blues." Whitaker deftly takes us on a journey that gets to the heart of the cleverly-arranged melody, a fast shuffle with the sax and guitar living the place; the Diego Rivera arrangement never stops moving.
The other originals are deeply felt evocations of music that is in the blood of these players. There's a gorgeous gospel ballad ("Desperate Desire ); an up-tempo redo of a tune from a 1994 Allen album ("Alternative Thoughts ); a wistful reverie introduced by arco bass (Whitaker's "Summer ), a knockout combining spiritual uplift with a kind of "Poinciana bounce (Kyle David Matthews' "We Fall Down ) and so much more. This is a beautifully thought-out session with excellent recorded sound, a stunning diversity of mood and solid consistency of purpose.
Track Listing: La Shea's Walk; Get Ready; Inner City Blues; Desperate Desire; Alternative Thoughts; Summer (The Sweet Goodbye); Preference of Conviction; A Heart Enflamed, A Soul Enchanted; We Fall Down; Now Silence.
Personnel: Carl Allen: drums; Rodney Whitaker: bass; Cyrus Chestnut: piano.organ; Rodney Jones: guitar; Dorsey "Rob" Robinson: organ; Steve Wilson: alto sax.
Record Label: Mack Avenue Records