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Mark Whitfield: Forever Love

Inspired by the work of vocalists like Nat Cole, Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett, Johnny Hartman and Billie Holiday, Whitfield’s latest is a collection of love songs. The majority of the tracks feature pianist Jim Pryor, bassist Roland Guerin, drummer Donald Edwards and a string orchestra. But the large-scale format always dedicates a relatively generous amount of space to Whitfield’s fluent, soulful guitar work, a tacit salute to players like Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and George Benson. Diana Krall lends her rich voice to “Early Autumn” and “Some Other Time,” which begins as a duet with Whitfield’s electric guitar. And Whitfield goes it alone on “My One And Only Love” and “Some Other Spring,” gorgeous solo chord-melody renderings that are only slightly marred by annoying squeaks caused by his fingers moving along the strings.

While the album’s concept could have easily taken a turn toward the maudlin, Whitfield keeps things on an artful course by means of brilliant musicianship, judicious Dale Oehler arrangements, sheer taste and his ever-increasing maturity. Beautiful from beginning to end.

Originally Published