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Sacred Machines by Glenn White

Phoenix native and NEC grad Glenn White's impressive second recording, Sacred Machines, is a fine example of where mainstream jazz seems to be headed in the early 21st Century. Informed by the innovations that characterized the output of the Blue Note label during the early 1960s (think Andrew Hill, Grachan Moncur, Kenny Dorham, etc.), White also incorporates a variety of approaches derived from more recent source materials, such as M-BASE, into his compositions to synthesize an identifiable personal sound. The young tenor saxophonist's compositions typically feature two or three separate lines moving in complementary, or completely opposite, directions only to resolve in a happy collision of staggered rhythms and dense harmonies.

Despite White's tendency towards the cerebral, Sacred Machines exudes an approachable warmth that is quite listener-friendly. Both tendencies are best exemplified by 'Triality,' a breezy funk-jazz workout that features Roberta Piket's effervescent Rhodes piano. The head is a knotted mass of darting, rapid-fire phrases that coalesces into a driving vamp for Piket's marvelous solo. Flutist Jamie Baum then starts what sounds like a flute solo, only to repeat her line while Piket intones an opposing line and sets the stage for a fine tenor solo by the leader. Few of White's tunes stay in the same groove for their entire length. 'Washington Heights' starts out as a gauzy ballad, but picks up into a slyly funked-up vamp for Piket's solo midway through. White explores odd time signatures on 'Wish,' a truly lovely tune that features some of the best soloing on the entire disc. Baum, an underrated musician if there ever was one, is the perfect foil for White's mellow, Warne Marsh-inspired tenor. Her flute playing is spot-on throughout this disc, and - along with Piket - contributes several gorgeous solos. Jeff Hirshfield's understated drumming and Gary Wang's firm hand on bass frame each tune with the requisite balance between care and caprice.

As a fan of all things modern, cutting-edge, and original in jazz, I instantly appreciated Glenn White's music. Though Sacred Machines completely lacks familiar standard tunes, those whose listening habits are lodged firmly in the mainstream may find a lot of pleasure in this disc as well. There is a ceaseless forward motion and approachability to White's music that, for me, characterizes the best jazz of any age.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Glenn White
  • CD Title: Sacred Machines
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: OA2 Records
  • Tracks: Sacred Machines, Split Infinity, Triality, Washington Heights, Phobia, Wish, Aftermath
  • Musicians: Glenn White (tenor saxophone), Roberta Piket (piano and Rhodes), Jamie Baum (flute and alto flute), Gary Wang (bass), Jeff Hirshfield (drums), and Patrick Hay (guitar)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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