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July/August 2005

Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra West
The Minute Game
Summit

Barely 40, trombonist-singer-composer-arranger Scott Whitfield already boasts an impressive resume that in-cludes launching the Man-hattan Vocal Project and nine years with Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band. Now ensconced in L.A., his bicoastal future appears devoted to his Jazz Orchestra East and Jazz Orchestra West. He has shaped both to match his highly personal writing concept: three trumpets, three 'bones and three reeds (awash in doublings) propelled by three rhythm players-perfect for his skills as a colorist.

While Whitfield's vocalizing shows fine intonation, it's still a bit tentative. But stick the trombone in his face and he becomes a monster, executing any idea he conceives. He turns Lee Morgan's "Ceora" into a lilting waltz and contributes a gutsy solo, followed by eloquent statements from flugelhornist Anne King and bassist Jennifer Leitham. The title tune is notable for its conversation between Whitfield and drummer Kendall Kay. When it comes to warmth, Whifield digs deep and chooses Stravinsky-the "Berceuse" from his Firebird ballet music. On a humorous level, he resorts to onomatopoeia twice: on "Splat!" where he sprays exclamation points in the head to simulate big, fat low Fs of the trombones, and on the tricky swinger "Hiccups," which was inspired by his daughter. Any source will do.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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