7

Rodney Whitaker: When We Find Ourselves Alone

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Rodney Whitaker is often cited for his affiliations rather than his own work. That's a shame, as it takes attention away from some wonderful music that he's put out under his own name, but it's easy to understand why that's the case. He anchored trumpeter Roy Hargrove's band for a while, ballasted and buoyed Wynton Marsalis's Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra during his stint with that acclaimed organization, and connected with drummer Carl Allen for a pair of exciting dates on the Mack Avenue imprint. He also directs that label's "Superband" and contributes to the future of the music through his educational work as a Distinguished Professor of Jazz Bass at Michigan State University. Add to that a list of recording credits that finds him supporting everybody from vocal breakout star Cecile McLorin Salvant to under-recognized pianist Junko Onishi and you start to realize why Whitaker's name is often spoken in the same breath as those he works with and supports. Here, all of that known-by-association nonsense falls away.

When We Find Ourselves Alone presents Rodney Whitaker in all his glory, playing exactly what he wants to play. He doesn't share billing or serve somebody else's vision. Instead, he pulls from various places and interests to create a straightforward yet diverse program with some help from some old friends. Whitaker's joined by pianist Bruce Barth, an associate from his days with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and two of his comrades-in-arms from his time with Hargrove—saxophonist Antonio Hart and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. All four men gel beautifully and seem to have a ball walking down different musical avenues together.

The album starts off with "The World Falls Away," a swinging number that gives everybody a chance to solo, but the band immediately switches gears on the follow-up song—the Brazilian-tinged, Hargrove-referencing "When You Played With Roy." As things progress, lots of other approaches are utilized. Pure beauty comes to the fore as Hart's poignant soprano steers the proceedings during "Jamerson's Lullaby"; drive and intensity are at the heart of "Freedom Day"; soul jazz makes an appearance via "Mr. Magic"; and "You Go To My Head" is reconfigured as a funk-inflected, backbeat-driven number. Whitaker's daughter—vocalist Rockelle Fortin—also brings some different things to the table. Her first appearance finds her working with her father's arco support at the dawn of "Autumn Leaves"; the piece later moves into a swinging environment with Fortin scatting away. She also enlivens "Freedom Day" and "You Go To My Head," brings a dash of sly sophistication to "Mr. Magic," and merges with Hart's uplifting saxophone on the hopeful, album-ending "Lost In You Again."

When We Find Ourselves Alone projects solitude through its name, but the music contained herein does the exact opposite. A sense of togetherness and camaraderie shines through here.

Track Listing: The World Falls Away; When You Played With Roy; Autumn Leaves; Jamerson's Lullaby; You Go To My Head; Invitation; Freedom Day; A Mother's Cry; Mr. Magic; When We Find Ourselves Alone; Lost In You Again.

Personnel: Rodney Whitaker: bass; Bruce Barth: piano; Antonio Hart: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Greg Hutchinson: drums; Rockelle Fortin: vocals.

Title: When We Find Ourselves Alone | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "3rio" CD/LP/Track Review 3rio
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Feather" CD/LP/Track Review Feather
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Live at the High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "The Sky Remains" CD/LP/Track Review The Sky Remains
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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