David Whiteis

David’s Contributions

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October 2008    Albums

Live at the Sunset
Trio 3: Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille

There’s an acerbic edge to both Oliver Lake’s alto sax tone and the melodic themes of many of these compositions that might, in others’ hands, seem ill humored. But percussionist Andrew Cyrille’s relentless yet unobtrusive propulsiveness and bassist Reggie...

Ellington_span3

June 2008    Albums

Thank You Uncle Edward
Duke Ellington Legacy

Technically, it’s “Grandpa Edward”: Guitarist Edward Kennedy Ellington II, who conceived the tribute band known as the Duke Ellington Legacy in 2004, is the Maestro’s grandson. Ellington II appointed tenor saxophonist Virginia Mayhew to serve as bandleader...

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June 2008    Albums

A Simple Thank You
Virginia Mayhew Septet

“Happy” isn’t a word used often to describe music these days, but there’s no getting around it: this set sounds like nothing so much as a face-splitting, ear-to-ear grin from the first note to the last. Which isn’t to say that it’s simplistic or shallow—this...

Sharpe_span3

June 2008    Albums

Legends & Mentors: The Music of McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp, and Yusef Lateef
Avery Sharpe

Here bassist Avery Sharpe invokes the musical spirit of three living masters, but rather than imitate, he pays tribute in his own voice. In doing so, he both honors them and creates anew atop the foundations they have laid. The program follows a consistent...

Shaw_span3

June 2008    Albums

Optimism
Jaleel Shaw

Optimism surges through “Flipside,” the opening track on Jaleel Shaw’s second recording as a leader. Altoist Shaw and guitarist Lage Lund unfurl the complex extended line in unison, so tightly bound that they sound like a single instrument; then, as both...

Brown_span3

May 2008    Albums

Live at the Green Mill
Ari Brown

Ari Brown may be best known these days for his relentlessly exploratory work with his colleagues in Chicago’s AACM, but over the years he’s also played in plenty of blues, R&B and mainstream jazz contexts, and he obviously embraces it all. This gig, recorded...

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April 2008    Albums

Black Unstoppable
Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble

The opening moments of “Cause and Effect,” the first track, set the tone: A tough, almost steely unison statement from flutist Mitchell, saxist David Boykin, trumpeter David Young, guitarist Jeff Parker and the tightly wound Black Earth Ensemble rhythm section...

Murraydavid_sacredground_span3

October 2007    Albums

Sacred Ground
David Murray/Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson

As the title would indicate, this is a spirit-infused outing; the agenda, as set forth by co-songwriter Ishmael Reed’s lyrics on both the title tune and “Prophet of Doom,” is expressly political. The stylistic range spans from ethereal meditation through...

Andersondrake_fromrivertoocean_span3

July/August 2007    Albums

From the River to the Ocean
Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake

Tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and percussionist Hamid Drake have worked often with guitarist Greg Parker and bassists Harrison Bankhead and Josh Abrams at Anderson’s Velvet Lounge in Chicago; listening to them here is like dropping in on a long-running...

Chicago_underground_span3

July/August 2007    Albums

Chronicle
Chicago Underground Trio

Jason Ajemian’s opening bass solo sets the tone: Built primarily around a densely packed series of fierce double-stops with a few single-string flails thrown in, it stutters and lurches forward in boxy, asymmetrical patterns, as if Ajemian intends to throw...

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July/August 2007    Albums

Indigo Trio: Live in Montreal
Nicole Mitchell/Harrison Bankhead/Hamid Drake

Flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassist Harrison Bankhead and percussionist Hamid Drake are longtime collaborators. But until June 13, 2005, when they appeared at the Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, these three Chicagoans had never performed publicly...

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June 2007    Artist Profiles

Fred Anderson: New Velvet

Chicago-based tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson was already an underground legend in 1982 when he bought Tip’s Tavern, a small neighborhood bar on Indiana Avenue that he’d been running for several years, and rechristened it the Velvet Lounge. A founding member...

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March 2007    News

Made in Chicago, Played in Poland: Free Jazz and Boogie-Woogie Piano in Poznan

Freedom was ringing throughout Poland in the 1980s, and for a young student named Wojciech Juszczak, the resonance helped spark a lifelong musical love affair. “It was at about the time of the end of martial law,” he remembers. “Solidarity Summer. The Warsaw...

Freeman_span3

January/February 2007    Albums

Out of Many Comes the One
The Chico Freeman Project

“Ya can’t shut the funk up,” New Orleans’ redoubtable Dr. John has instructed us. But on this disk Chico Freeman sounds determined to do just that—or, at the very least, cut it off at the knees. This might have been an enjoyable, if not exactly revelatory...

Marsalis_span3

January/February 2007    Albums

Minions' Dominion
Delfeayo Marsalis

The fabled Marsalis technical dexterity is on full display here, as is the characteristic meld of pop-culture accessibility and high-art aspiration (“Brer Rabbit” was the closing theme of the ABC miniseries Moon Over Miami; “Lost in the Crescent,” a reprise...

Rosewoman_span3

January/February 2007    Albums

The In Side Out
Michele Rosewoman & Quintessence

The first six tracks here are an invocation of the Ring Shout, the traditional African ceremonial form of dance, song and worship in which a theme or set of themes is stated, responded to by the participants, and then repeated and improvised upon in a circular...

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About David Whiteis

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David Whiteis, an internationally published critic and journalist with over 25 years of experience writing about blues, jazz, and other essential issues, currently writes on a regular basis for JazzTimes, the Chicago Reader, Living Blues Magazine, Juke Blues Magazine (Great Britain), and other publications. He is the recipient of the Blues Foundation’s 2001 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Achievement in Journalism. His recent book Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories, was published by University of Illinois Press in 2006. He is currently working on a book about contemporary Southern Soul-Blues.