David Whiteis

David’s Contributions


January/February 2010    Albums

21st Century Chase
Fred Anderson

The prototype here is “The Chase,” the 1947 Dexter Gordon/Wardell Gray workout that virtually defined “tenor battle” for succeeding generations. But this set, recorded at Chicago’s Velvet Lounge during Fred Anderson’s 80th birthday celebration, recasts that...


December 2009    Albums

Seize the Time
Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls

Ted Sirota’s agenda here is overtly political. “No powerful movement for change,” his liner notes tell us, “can succeed without an equally powerful cultural movement to inspire, lead and uplift the people.” To that end, this set includes compositions by...

November 2009    Features

Dee Alexander: Free As A Bird

Chicago-based vocalist Dee Alexander takes flight on Wild Is the Wind


10/01/09    Concerts

Chicago Jazz Festival

Windy City talent makes up for diminished star power at this 31st edition


October 2009    Albums

Vijay Iyer Trio

New CD from Vijay Iyer Trio takes on Stevie Wonder, Leonard Bernstein, M.I.A., Julius Hemphill & Andrew Hill. And Vijay Iyer.


October 2008    Albums

Ooh Live!
Kahil El’zabar’s Ritual Trio Featuring Pharoah Sanders

It’s a tribute to the inspiration that fueled this performance that “Autumn Leaves,” normally the most labored outing in a Ritual Trio performance, here achieves an indelible mix of pathos, sophisticated swing and upward-arcing majesty. Nonetheless, like...


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...


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...


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...


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...


June 2008    Albums

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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


July/August 2007    Albums

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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About David Whiteis


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.