In the tradition of George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Lee
Ritenour and many more, Mark Whitfield exhibits superb finger dexterity
with [i]Grace[/i] (Marksman Productions, 2017).
The players are
Whitfield, guitar; sons Davis Whitfield, piano, and Mark Whitfield Jr.,
drums; Yasushi Nakamura, bass; and Sy Smith, vocals on “Grace.”
music throughout is unfiltered jazz with tight syncopation and unit
cohesion, augmented by individual expression. Smith lends her whispery
voice to the title song, whose lyrics she wrote. Whitfield breezes through
the songs, playing cleanly whether mixing chords with a string of single
notes, or doing a high-speed riff. Davis, Mark Jr. and Nakamura deliver
solid accompaniment, at times stretching out on their own.
Highlights include “Afro Samurai,” “Double Trouble” and “Undiscovered.”
Whitfield’s first recording was 1990’s Marksman (Warner
Bros.). The New York Times named him “The Best Young Guitarist in the
Business.” His sons began playing at a young age and have since
accompanied the leader, making theirs a family band.
“I wanted to
share my love of music with sons, and use this love to forge a bond
between the three of us that would enrich our lives, enlighten our
consciousness and support us through the toughest of times,” Whitfield
All nine songs on Grace are original works.
Whitfield composed music for all but the closing track, “Pulse Pt. 2,”
which was written by Davis and Mark Jr. Smith wrote lyrics for “Grace.”