White, Chris: Tributaries

SKU: 24555661
Chris White: Tributaries

White, Chris: Tributaries

SKU: 24555661

Format: CD

Regular price $11.98
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Title: Tributaries
Artist: White, Chris
Label: CD Baby
UPC: 800492193514
Genre: Jazz

'Chris White is one of the more interesting pianists on the Chicago jazz scene. I'm most acquainted with his work in various hotel lounges and jazz clubs, where he's often found playing with local vocalists or small instrumental groups, mostly traipsing through sets of standards. It's evident that he's quite a fine player, particularly as an accompanist, who's well at home in a traditional style. But to simply place White in that box would be a mistake. On his newly released CD, Tributaries, White offers a set of freshly composed songs inspired from a broad array of influences. Tributaries is a fitting title, for it takes us down a path of personal journey, whereby White pays tribute to those who have informed his own musical voyage. We gain here a deeper insight into what White is about. For instance, we learn that White's primary music influence is Herbie Hancock, and White's compositions employ elements taken from his long learned listening to the master. But then, we also discover an R&B ballad inspired by Alicia Keyes and Stevie Wonder. New Orleans-oriented works are elsewhere on this CD, as is what he calls a 'bluesy minor key shuffle' reminiscent of Art Blakey's work. In contrast to what one hears from White when he's performing around town, Tributaries causes one to pause and say, Well, now, that's interesting! And it is. On many levels. Of course, there is the curiosity which piques interest. Stepping out of a perceived norm will do that. While, apparently, these things have been long underlaid in his playing, it isn't always what has been especially apparent to me in live performance. But here there's something much more which has challenged this critic - in a good way. The music, itself, functions on a more intense level of interesting harmonics, rhythms, shifts, and complexity that causes you to sit up and pay attention carefully. In some sense it is even a kind of program music, with titles that embody the spirit of what is heard. 'Blues For The Big Easy' starts things out with it's New Orleans beat and you know that this group means business. They don't lay back one bit. White sets down a basic motif of just four notes and begins to develop it--first simply, then into something more abundant - that grabs one in with the desire to discover where he wants to take you. Mike Jeffers is the drummer on this recording who you hear in that opening entree. He has a long working relationship with Chris White, which helps provide the tightness to these works. But it's notable that his percussion from the onset (and in this piece, especially) stands out as perhaps some of the best I have heard from him. The music then turns reflective in 'Sur La Mer,' in homage to Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage.' Here I just love the mood which White's thoughtful interventions lend amidst the bass solo of Nick Schneider, the third member of this trio. Schneider, of course, sounds quite fine throughout the disc, doing what he's supposed to by providing a rock solid rhythm and depth of sonority, without calling too much attention to himself. It's nice when an instrumentalist of his high caliber can lay back into the groove without feeling the need to overtly announce, Hey, I'm here! White also provides a real richness in his R&B ballad 'Some Understanding', another laid back piece. A welcome, if unexpected, composition. Jim Massoth joins the group on a few tracks, adding flavor and color (as well as some really hot soloing) with his saxes and flute. One such piece is 'Numbers Game.' On this cut (and others) I'm left in awe at what White accomplishes in his playing. While I presume that Massoth has overdubbed here in order to provide both lines from the two instruments he alone is listed as simultaneously using, I'm not so sure that this is what White has resorted to when it sometimes seems that there must be two pianos at work to get such distinct direction of sound between right hand and left. Rather, I'm guessing that White is just that good. These two also go at it extensively in 'Spirit Dance,' another nod to Hancock. The song's shifting centers provide an extensive opportunity for showing off ones soloing chops--and they each make the most of it. Then the trio concludes the album by going in yet another direction still with a swinging calypso, 'Down in St. Kitts.' What this album ultimately states is not to be surprised by anything one might discover out of Chris White. He is a musician with an inherent interest in exploring greater depths and intersections. He doesn't just stand still or get all too comfortable with where he's at. Here is a musician who clearly has a genuine interest in furthering his art. Which is what makes him someone who will hold your interest, and encourage you to want to return consistently that you might hear what deeper insights he always seems to have available as an offering.' -2008 review from Chicagojazz.com.

1.1 Blues for the Big Easy
1.2 Sur la Mer
1.3 One Like That
1.4 Some Understanding
1.5 Numbers Game
1.6 Spirit Dance
1.7 Down in St. Kitts

Audio Sample:
All soundclips are provided by Tidal and are for illustrative purposes only. For some releases, the tracks listed may not accurately represent the tracks on the physical release.
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