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Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East: Diamonds for Nat

Scott Whitfield demonstrates, through his writing as well as with his trombone, how much he and his Easterners enjoy maintaining a straightahead groove. This time he adds a personal salute to his mentor, Nat Adderley. Whitfield avoids the temptation of exotic, big-band voicings for his 12-piece ensemble yet never sacrifices instrumental color. Check “Naturally” for what sounds like flute/clarinet/muted trumpet figures behind solos by pianist Kenny Ascher and Whitfield (plus there’s an excellent flute solo by Dan Jordan).

At the other end of the spectrum, it’s bottoms up on “Hummin’,” as tubist Howard Johnson and bass trombonist Wayne Coniglio exchange ideas. Later, Vincent Herring adds his own eloquence on soprano sax. Johnson returns with baritone sax on “Plum Steet” and is confronted by Dave Schumacher’s bari. It all happens over Whitfield’s favorite devices: ostinato figures and contrapuntal lines. The latter can be heard in “Roses for Your Pillow,” as piano and bass provide obbligatos in unison under Whitfield’s best balladic solo effort. The most memorable tribute to Adderley comes, appropriately, on his best-known diamond, “Work Song,” featuring Marvin Stamm’s great trumpet solo, proving you don’t have to shout in order to swing.

Originally Published