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Rob Whitlock: Sketchin’

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Rob Whitlock’s consistently well-played if sometimes musically unimposing Sket-chin’ explores a wealth of styles, from party-funk fare and vintage tunes to Caribbean-flavored pieces and soul-jazz with a touch of gospel. Whitlock doesn’t try to dazzle or wow anyone technically on B3, acoustic piano or electronic keyboards, often preferring to let other members of the various aggregations take the instrumental spotlight. When he does step forward, his playing is lean, disciplined and effective, especially the organ lines and licks he provides on “Rob’s New Tune,” “Po Man’s Gravy (For Mom)” and “I Deal.” The latter two are the CD’s hottest numbers, spiced by Whitlock’s fine arrangements, John Rekevics’ sax work and steady but unobtrusive drumming from either Vinnie Colaiuta or Cliff Almond.

By contrast, the vocal and overall treatment of “God Bless the Child” comes across more reverential than memorable, though Michael Brecker’s tenor-sax contribution elevates things. The orchestration on “To Heather With Love” nearly torpedoes an otherwise decent sentimental bit. There’s nothing overwhelmingly wrong with any of the seven selections here, though such players as guitarist Pat Kelley and contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson have done more exciting work on other occasions.