Every now and then, it pays to revisit the past. But in this case, we’re not talking the roots of jazz but something from more recent history. Lenny White Live (BFM Jazz, 2013) was recorded from a 1997 performance in Japan.
The set features drummer Lenny White, with a lineup of Mark Ledford on trumpet, Bennie Maupin on saxophones, Foley on lead bass, Patrice Rushen and Donald Blackmon on keyboards and Victor Bailey on bass.
“Whew! What a Dream” kicks things off. Bailey’s bass lines provide the fuel for this energetic piece. White shows why he’s one of the world’s most prolific drummers throughout the song, especially during the middle break. All the players are fully engaged, with Ledford, Maupin, Rushen and Blackman contributing solos as well as a spirited call-and-response sequence between keyboard and sax. Toward the end of the piece, White steps out again during an exchange with the horn synths.
“Pic Pocket,” written by Bailey, features some muted trumpet by Ledford and more of Rushen’s dexterity on the piano. Ledford also offers a wordless chant that blends with Maupin’s soprano sax.
The set also includes an alternate take on “Whew! What a Dream,” and a 21-minute offering of “East St. Louis.” Each song presents the musicians working both as a cohesive unit but also as highly skilled soloists.
White laid the foundation for his success as a member of the 1970s trio, Return to Forever with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. He later fronted his own band, Twennynine. In the past year, White has used his influence to bring to the forefront two European jazz artists, vocalist Letizia Gambi and pianist Beka Gochiashvili.