All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Lenny White: Lenny White Live

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Drumming legend Lenny White made his first trip to Japan in 1971, before he became a stick wielding star with fusion pioneers Return to Forever. He's played to appreciative audiences in that country time and again over the years, in various settings and with various outfits, so it comes as a shock to hear that he didn't receive an offer to bring one of his own groups over there until 1997. When the offer finally came, White didn't waste the opportunity. He called up some old friends and put together a band with muscle and groove to spare. The resultant tour was a success, as White and company found their funky, fusion-laced footing without a problem. Now, the music they made on that tour is available for all to hear.

Lenny White Live features lengthy treatments of material from a pair of then-current White albums—Present Tense (Hip Bop Essence, 1995) and Renderers Of Spirit (Hip Bop Essence, 1996)—and every performance betters its original counterpart. The material still essentially exists in the same form, as electric fusion that marries funk, rock, R&B and jazz, but it breathes fresh air, not stifled oxygen. Slamming beats underscore corrosive-and-serrated solo lines ("Dark"), a restrained-heady duality comes into focus ("East St. Louis"), steady pocket playing serves as a foundation for individual explorations ("Whew! What A Dream"), and a fired up, funky bottom powers energetic discoveries that occur above the surface ("Wolfbane").

The band burns with the fire of a thousand suns, following White wherever he may go. Bennie Maupin leaves his bass clarinet at home, but it turns out he doesn't need it; his saxophone(s) serve him well, whether melting flesh ("Wolfbane") or messing around with "Nature Boy" during a solo spot ("East St. Louis"). Trumpeter Mark Ledford meshes well with Maupin and his muted voice makes an impression that isn't all Miles Davis-style moodiness. The rhythm section, which contains two bassists, two keyboard players, and White, may sound unwieldy on paper, but each player has a specific role. Victor Bailey is the slapping, groove-setting bassist who occasionally comes out front, and Foley delivers guitar-like, "lead bass" work. Patrice Rushen is responsible for to-die-for piano solos that rip through the fabric of these songs, while Donald Blackman delivers the atmospheric, and occasionally unearthly, keyboard work that appears throughout.

White, as many already know, provides the hands and feet that serve as the hammer(s) of God. He remains a powerhouse of a drummer, capable of driving a song with muscular beats that, while hardly refined, remain appropriate within the context that he's created. He's a passion player with the chops to back up his enthusiasm and he's capable of building an arc of intensity that few others can match. He produced this recording so the mix is built in his image, with a balanced sound that still gives some love to the oft neglected low end. This is a fusion feast that took way too long to serve; maybe White has some other tasty treats in his archive that he'll offer up for consumption in the near future.

Track Listing: Whew! What A Dream; East St. Louis; Pick Pocket; Dark; Wolfbane; Whew! What A Dream (alt.).

Personnel: Mark Ledford: trumpet; Bennie Maupin; saxophones; Foley: lead bass; Patrice Rushen: keyboards; Donald Blackman: keyboards; Victor Bailey: bass; Lenny White: drums.

Title: Lenny White Live | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: BFM Jazz

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "A New Shade Of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review A New Shade Of Blue
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Barefoot Dances and Other Visions" CD/LP/Track Review Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 12, 2018
Read "Say It" CD/LP/Track Review Say It
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "Man No Longer Me" CD/LP/Track Review Man No Longer Me
by Matt Hooke
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "Oneness" CD/LP/Track Review Oneness
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 9, 2018
Read "Trio Stonk: Live At Smalls" CD/LP/Track Review Trio Stonk: Live At Smalls
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 4, 2017