Monday, November 13, 2017

Mark Whitfield Live & Uncut

Mark Whitfield
Live & Uncut
Chesky Records

Recorded live at Manattan's Rockwood Music Hall (on the lower East Side), this new album by the celebrated guitarist Mark Whitfield has him joined by drummer Billy Drummond and bassist Ben Allison. It was recorded with a single binaural microphone and is part of Chesky's Virtual Audio Series. This is a MQA CD that plays back on all CD players but apparently will reveal the original master quality on a MQA enabled device.

Listening to the performances of four standards and two Drummond originals, one observes in addition to the excellence of the playing that Drummond sounds a tad bit too prominent in the mix (and at times too noticeable). Musically things start off on a strong note with a superb "Without a Song," with Whitfield's fresh, and imaginative take matched with his impeccable technique followed by equally brilliant, imaginative explorations of "Invitation" (with a solid Allison solo), and "Willow Weep For Me," as Whitfield takes us for quite a ride with his scintillating fretwork with Allison providing an anchor before Drummond solos, and the audio details of his stick and brushwork is captured wonderfully here. Drummond's intriguing "Changes For Monk And Trane," is followed by a solid rendition of Monk's "Jackie-ing" with Allison superb providing a foundation for the leader's improvisation with Drummond taking another solo.

"Live & Uncut" closes with Drummond's evocative "Dubai," and is another sterling performance by this trio, with another feature for the composer. Whitfield, Allison and Drummond are superb throughout and my only reservation is the prominence of Drummond in the mix, likely the result of the use of only a single microphone (or possibly my not having a MQA CD player).

I received from my review copy from a publicist. Here with organist Pat Bianchi, Mark performs Duke Ellington's, "In a Sentimental Mood."

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