by Janet Goodman
“It was the first time I had been asked to bring a band of my own to Japan. I chose friends that I had lasting relationships with over the years,” writes spirited jazz drummer Lenny White, reflecting on piecing together a touring ensemble for a visit to Asia sixteen years ago. The composer, producer and member of the Grammy-winning group Return To Forever has finally given in to requests to release recordings from that tour with his latest, “Lenny White Live: Live From 97,” on the BFM Jazz label.
This jazz fusion album is a 70-minute concert, featuring some legendary players performing six original White compositions: the late Mark Ledford on trumpet; Bennie Maupin (Herbie Hancock) on sax; Foley (Miles Davis) on lead bass; Patrice Rushen on piano; Donald Blackman on synthesizer; Victor Bailey (Weather Report) on bass; White on drums.
A gushing piano solo opens their set on “Whew! What A Dream,” and twin-bass solos mixed with a muted trumpet rally early on the 21-minute, groove-adventurous “East St. Louis,” and wraps with psychedelic rock bass and synth passages. “Wolfbane” is unnervingly bumble-bee quick, and an alternate, joyous version of Track 1 closes out as an encore. The dynamic “Dark” is the mood-setting cinematic arrangement here flanked by killer, blatant metal bass riffs by Foley, who segues into an orient-inspired section that will strike the final blow if you haven’t yet died from hearing good jazz. Listen closely for a couple of bars of 60s pop culture – “Meet The Flintstones” – rearing its head in this track.
Visit the artist’s website at www.LennyWhite.com
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