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Rodney Whitaker: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Rodney Whitaker’s Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow features fellow Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra musicians whose familiarity from months of touring together pays off on these 12 tracks. Whitaker’s writing skills provide potential new standards, especially his melancholy “Visions of the Past,” which spotlights graceful muted-trumpet expressions from guest Wynton Marsalis and adroit support from drummer Herlin Riley and pianist Farid Barron. From ballads to boppers, the captivating, diverse fare engages the listener in part because it seems so understated yet attractively colored and textured. Guests Marsalis (three tracks), vocalist Diane Reeves and sopranino saxist Wess Anderson (one each), and trombonist Wycliff Gordon (two) add vigor to Whitaker’s core quartet with Baron, Riley and Victor Goines (tenor & soprano sax, bass clarinet). Diverse settings, thoughtful tunefulness and distinctive rhythms yield an accessible recording that invites repeated play.

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