Scott Whitfield: Speaking of Love

Trombonist, vocalist, composer and arranger Scott Whitfield’s latest project is an unabashed collection of love songs, perhaps best explained by the title and lyric of one of his own tunes, as he exuberantly sings “I’m a Romantic Sap.” The versatile Whitfield has recorded with both his Jazz Orchestra East and Jazz Orchestra West, as well as live with his Quintet, but this well-produced CD is a delightful departure that is an obvious (no pun intended) labor of love.

Cheryl Bentyne of the Manhattan Transfer joins Whitfield for two polished vocal duets, on “Sugar” and “Adagio in Pearl,” the latter from a beautiful melody by Bill Evans known as “Bill’s Hit Tune,” but here with bittersweet, descriptive words by Bebe Herring. The Manhattan Vocal Project, a quartet that features lead vocalist Pete McGuinness, Joe Elefante, Kevin Osborne and Whitfield, sings effectively in Four Freshmen-style close harmony on Scott’s sweet samba “Come to Me,” his pure love song “Two People,” and the standards “I Love You” and “When I Fall in Love” (a pretty a cappella arrangement by Scott). Whitfield is the sole vocalist for a scat-filled “A Beautiful Friendship,” a smooth “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” an assured “All of You” (more confident scatting), a swinging “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” the gorgeous Rodgers Grant bossa nova “Only at Lonely Times,” and two more originals by Scott, the warmly sung and scatted show-type tune “It’s You!” and his wistful song of regret and loss, “What Went Wrong.”

Offering both top-notch accompaniment and solos throughout are guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, pianist Ted Kooshian, Scott Robinson on sax and flute, trumpeter Marvin Stamm, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, drummers Willard Dyson and Terry Clarke, and percussionist Memo Acevedo. Of course, Whitfield gets in his share of outstanding trombone solos, as if his excellent vocals weren’t enough.