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Live at Birdland by Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East

Scott Whitfield is multi-talented. He teaches, composes, arranges, sings and plays great trombone. Whitfield's vocals have been heard with many groups including the Pied Pipers. He has performed with bands ranging from the Nat Adderley Sextet to the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra and appeared for many years at New York's Birdland both with Toshiko and his own orchestra. This CD was recorded at Birdland in March 2003.

His arrangements are ingenious and develop a sound you would never expect from a twelve-piece orchestra. The band is always articulate, always swinging. Four of the compositions are his, including two boppish charts based on jam session favorites. "One-Way Street" suggests "Green Dolphin Street" while I'm sure you can figure out the source for "Juiced Fiends!" Both leave room for freewheeling solos including Whitfield on "Street" and bass trombonist Wayne Coniglio on "Fiends." The latter contains some interesting interplay between sections with the rhythm section laying out and a burning alto solo by Karolina Strassmayer.

"Mimosa" is a bossa featuring spirited piano by Kenny Ascher while "Sapphire Eyes," a tribute to Princess Diana, is tranquil and Toshiko-flavored.12/8 time and uninhibited performances by Whitfield and tenor player Dan Jordan plus high-end work by trumpeter Mike Ponella bring a new up-tempo look to the classic "Laura." There are also two Whitfield vocals, one a ballad, one a finger-snapper.

The session closes with tributes to a pair of greats. For Bix Beiderbecke's hundredth birthday, "In a Mist" was rewritten as a jazz waltz without losing its impressionistic quality. J.J. Johnson 's " In Walked Horace " is given the Thad Jones treatment, featuring muted trumpet by Ponella and chase solos by the three bones.

Scott Whitfield is now based in Los Angeles where he has formed a Jazz Orchestra West. He plans a major "East meets West" project. That's something for all of us to look forward to!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East
  • CD Title: Live at Birdland
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Summit Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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