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Arthur White and MERGE: When You Find It

Jim Worsley By

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Arthur White and MERGE: When You Find It
The spirited yet soft and melodious title track, "When You Find It," creates an early atmospheric vibe that sets the tone for what is to follow. Arthur White wastes no time in establishing his saxophone dynamics, while leaving pianist Ken Kenner a lot of room for a creative run against the understated and nourishing rhythm section of bassist Sam Copeland and drummer Mark Tonelli seamlessly negotiates their gradual build before White wraps a bow at the conclusion of this well paced composition.

All eight songs are written by White. The second of which is the epitome of a bright summer day. "Intuition" is embedded with the feel that all will be well. White expresses his sophisticated chops in conversation with a band that is reciprocal to his every word. MERGE is indeed the right word to describe the ensemble's connectivity and interplay.

The vocabulary continues to grow in "Cyan." The color is anything but blue in this upswing that is punctuated by Copeland's bass lines and a tasty gait from Kenner. White again demonstrates a mature usage of space in having Tonelli take his time in developing and evolving in the moment. White is the catalyst that encases the free expressions of his ensemble.

A ballad is perhaps expected at this point. However, such predictability is forgiven by the beauty of the composition. "Second Time Around" exposes a vulnerability and tenderness in White's playing and writing. A band of equal measure is instead heard here as accompaniment for White. He caresses his moment in the spotlight with poise and grace.

"Sweet Baby Sam" swings the pendulum back to, well, back to swing. Vibraphonist Greg Carroll joins the mix and adds a Bobby Hutcherson like roll to the jaunty take. Carroll provides a veneer path for White and Tonelli to follow. They took that road with verve and vitality. Bassist Andrew Stinson and drummer Marty Morrison provide the perfect pocket and a nifty swing zone. A tightly engaged ensemble effort.

The brisk "Tunnel Vision'" features a funky bass push from Copeland. Amped up guitar licks from Tonelli shake up the directional compass, as White kicks loose for perhaps his most powerful performance of the session.

Bluesy and mysterious, "Hiccups," has a deliciously eerie backdrop from Carroll's vibes. White is nothing short of brilliant in what may well become a signature song. Hard to imagine that any artist wouldn't be happy to sign their name to this piece of work. MERGE engages triumphantly in this epic original.

The ensemble concludes in full swing. Cooking at a supercharged clip, they engage in a relentless groove from start to finish. Copeland and Kizilarmut are dialed in and demonstrative, allowing the band to fly at top speed. White impressively offers a depth in dialogue not easy to sustain at such a pace. Kenner and Tonelli are also at top voice in nuance and improvisation. To say the least, "Great Plains" is an explosive ending to a stellar journey.

This first record for the veteran sideman as a leader will certainly not be his last. White provides both a great listening experience and the promise of riches to come.

Track Listing

When You Find It; Intuition; Cyan; Second Time Around; Sweet Baby Sam; Tunnel Vision; Hiccups; Great Plains.

Personnel

Arthur White: saxophone, tenor; Mark Tonelli: guitar; Ken Kenner: piano; Greg Carroll: vibraphone; Andrew Stinson: bass; Sam Copeland: bass; Marty Morrison: drums; John Kizilarmut: drums.

Album information

Title: When You Find It | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: ARC - Artists Recording Collective

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