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Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East: Live at Birdland

Live at Birdland (Summit), featuring the Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East, was recorded on a doubly auspicious occasion: March 10, 2003, was Whitfield’s 40th birthday and Bix Beiderbecke’s 100th. Although the latter wasn’t on hand, he is well represented on this album. Whitfield has paid his dues with Nat Adderley, Cedar Walton, the Jimmy Dorsey ghost band, the Manhattan Vocal Project and, for the past five years, with Toshiko Akiyoshi’s band, and he’s an outstanding trombonist in the Carl Fontana tradition. His arranging chops are impressive, and Jazz Orchestra East is highly responsive, particularly pianist Kenny Ascher, trombonist Pat Hallaran, tenor saxophonist Dan Jordan and saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer,

Strassmayer, on alto, graces “Juiced Fiends” (title and melody based on “Just Friends”) and, on soprano, Beiderbecke’s Debussy-flavored “In a Mist,” but that tune, with its whole-tone harmonies, doesn’t lend itself to a jazz treatment, especially in 3/4. The best shouter on the date is “In Walked Horace,” which features three trombonists: Wayne Coniglio, Hallaran and the leader soling individually, trading eights, fours and eventually doing battle contrapuntally.

Originally Published