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Jazz Articles about Rodney Whitaker

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Liner Notes

Jordan VanHemert: Deep in the Soil

Read "Jordan VanHemert: Deep in the Soil" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan


Born in Korea and raised in Michigan, Jordan VanHemert counts himself among those youngsters that got involved in his school music program by starting out on the alto saxophone. Also like many of his fellow saxophonists, VanHemert eventually moved away from the smaller horn to devote his full energies to the tenor sax, an instrument emblematic of the jazz heritage. “In my formative years, I was almost exclusively an alto saxophonist," VanHemert explained from his current home base in Oklahoma. ...

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Album Review

Randy Napoleon: The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill

Read "The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill" reviewed by Paul Rauch


In and around the formidable jazz studies program at Michigan State University is a plethora of jazz talent devoted to instrumental and compositional excellence. Most of this talent is young, benefiting from a wide array of world-class instructors that includes program director Rodney Whitaker and veteran guitarist Randy Napoleon, among other notables. Within this labyrinth of jazz wisdom in the Detroit / Lansing metroplex is composer Gregg Hill, a former truck driver and tech entrepreneur whose performing ambitions were superseded ...

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Album Review

Rodney Whitaker: Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill

Read "Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Oasis is the third time around for bassist Rodney Whitaker and music written by fellow Michigander Gregg Hill, following Common Ground (Origin 82780) and Outrospection (Origin 82819). Personnel is the same as on Common Ground (Terell Stafford, trumpet; Tim Warfield, saxophone; Bruce Barth, piano; Dana Hall, drums; Rockelle Fortin, vocals) with Hall and Fortin returning from Outrospection (on which Fortin is listed as Rockelle Whitaker). Hill's compositions are for the most part firmly grounded in customary post-bop ...

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Album Review

Nathan Borton: Each Step

Read "Each Step" reviewed by Jane Kozhevnikova


Each Step is the debut recording by guitarist Nathan Borton. As his website accurately states, Borton draws heavily from the mid-western tradition of bebop and blues. His influences include Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell. The album offers an enjoyable tour through the straight-ahead tradition. There are three standards early on: Cole Porter's “Just One of Those Things," Harry Warren's “The More I See You" and John Lewis' “Milestones." These show the virtuosity of Borton's solo lines. ...

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Album Review

Jordan VanHemert: Nomad

Read "Nomad" reviewed by Jane Kozhevnikova


After his previous album, I Am Not A Virus (Big Round Records, 2021), inspired by the ongoing fight against racial prejudice, Jordan VanHemert releases Nomad, continuing to explore and embrace his Asian American identity. As the liner note says, this album is a celebration of Korean culture “through the melodies of both ancient & contemporary folk & children's songs, distilled through a modern jazz aesthetic." The opening tracks sound like a traditional saxophone trio similar to Sonny Rollins' ...

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Album Review

Jordan VanHemert: Nomad

Read "Nomad" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Although his name offers no clue, saxophonist Jordan VanHemert's heritage is Korean. He salutes that legacy on Nomad, his second album as leader, with a pair of Korean folk songs and half a dozen comparatively modern themes written by Koreans or Korean Americans. Most are performed by VanHemert's trio: (Rodney Whitaker, bass; David Alvarez III, drums). Pianist Lisa Sung, guitarist Nathan Borton, bassist John Webber, drummer Max Colley III and vocalist Sharon Cho join VanHemert on the children's song “Half ...

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Album Review

Nathan Borton: Each Step

Read "Each Step" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Judging from recent album releases, the guitar remains an essential part of the contemporary jazz scene. The latest example among many is this tasteful session led by Kansas-born, Michigan-based Nathan Borton, adding his name to an ample roster of newly minted guitar-led or guitar-centered albums by Doug MacDonald, Graham Dechter, Kristian Borring, Randy Napoleon, John Moulder, Hendrik Braeckman, Paul Bollenback, Matt Dingledine and others. What does Borton have that they may not? When it comes to technique and perception—that is, ...


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