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Scott Whitfield Quintet: Live at Charlie O’s

Trombonist, arranger and leader of the Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra, which had a long-running weekly spot at Birdland earlier this decade, Whitfield made the reverse migration from the Big Apple to Los Angeles in 2002. This album was recorded at a North Hollywood club where the quintet worked regularly. It gives Whitfield a chance to stretch out his trombone chops considerably more than he does with his big band. He also flexes his vocal muscle-with lyrics and scat-on a livelier-than-usual version of “Let’s Get Lost” and a jazz-crooner rendering of “You Go to My Head.”

Two pianists, John Rangel and special guest Bob Florence, share the piano duties in a band that also includes reedman Roger Neumann, bassist Jennifer Leitham and drummer Kendall Kay. Soloing on up and mid-tempos, Whitfield has a robust tone and rollicking sense of swing. He can modulate to a smoother tone, too, as when he blends velvet-muted horn with Neumann’s flute on his own impressionistic “Sunset Dreams.”

Another highlight on this consistently enjoyable CD is Whitfield’s “Spring’s Kiss,” his take on the changes to “All the Things You Are.” It includes such deft touches as a bridge in 3/4 time, an aptly quote-filled Florence solo, and a Whitfield solo during which he traverses the entire range of the horn with a pungent logic reminiscent of the late Jimmy Knepper.

Originally Published