A versatile drummer busy on the Chip White has published a book of his poems about jazz musicians, I'm Just the Drummer in the Band. Each is a concise, rhymed bio-celebration of the jazz musician, a poetic jazz encyclopedia entry if you will, often incorporating album titles and/or prominent stylistic characteristics of the musician. More Dedications is his second album to use some of them as launching points for compositions dedicated to their subjects.
One of the strengths here lies in White's choice of ensemble mates, a formidable septet, anchored by Peter Washington's bass and the estimable piano of Mulgrew Miller. The frontline is equally impressive, with Duane Eubanks (trumpet scion of the prominent Eubanks jazz family), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Patience Higgins (flute, alto and soprano saxophones) and Steve Nelson (vibes). The tunes salute and reference the playing or compositional styles of eight musicians who emerged in the bop or hard bop eras, as well as the singer Vanessa Davis. White's arrangements are much more than heads, changing up solo sequences and even individual soloists from track to track, making for appealing variety.
Higgins' flute is used cogently as a lead and solo voice on "Bag O'Blues," a blues with bridge salute to Milt Jackson; "A Touch of Hutch," a fleet Bobby Hutcherson tribute and the sumptuous "Dolphy's Mood," a flute feature wrapped in diaphanous ensemble colors. Other memorable tunes include "Booker's Little Leaps," a Booker Little celebration alternating a rolling waltz with swing time; "A Rhythm Round for Clifford Brown" that captures the spirit of hard bop swing exuberance and "The Contessa," for Vanessa Davis, a pearly ballad with a Modern Jazz Quartet instrumentation. And don't miss Gordon's solos, each one a different kind of tour de force, many with startling, unexpected entrances.
Bag O' Blues; A Rhythm Round for Clifford Brown; Booker's Little Leaps; Slow Mo for Joe; A Touch of Hutch; Dolphy's Mood; Celebration for Tony; The Contessa; The Continuing Saga of Miles; Bags (poem); Clifford (poem); Booker L. (poem); Joe (poem); Bobby (poem); Eric D. (poem); Tony (poem); Vanessa D. (poem); Miles (poem).
Chip White: drums; Peter Washington: bass; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Duane Eubanks: trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone; Patience Higgins: flute, alto and soprano saxes; Steve Nelson: vibes.
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