7

Lenny White: Lenny White Live

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Lenny White: Lenny White Live 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

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello" CD/LP/Track Review Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
by John Eyles
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Tipico" CD/LP/Track Review Tipico
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Jungle: Live At Okuden" CD/LP/Track Review Jungle: Live At Okuden
by John Sharpe
Published: November 17, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.