Jazz Avenues October/November BLOG 2015

Jazz Avenues October/November BLOG 2015
By Steve Monroe


… follow @jazzavenues



As George V. Johnson Jr. of the Washington DC Jazz Network (http://washingtondcjazznetwork.ning.com) reminds us, we first wish a Happy Happy Nov. 1 birthday to National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Lou Donaldson.
” … Alfred Lion, co-founder of Blue Note Records, heard [Lou] Donaldson playing at Minton’s Playhouse and invited him to record for his label. First as a sideman with the Milt Jackson Quartet (later the Modern Jazz Quartet), Donaldson was instrumental in bringing Clifford Brown and Horace Silver to Blue Note, and made the recording with Art Blakey, Night at Birdland, considered one of the first in the hard bop genre. Donaldson was also instrumental in getting many legendary musicians their debut sessions with Blue Note, including Grant Green, Blue Mitchell, John Patton, Ray Barretto, Curtis Fuller, and Donald Byrd.”
–www.arts.govhonors/jazz/lou-donaldson, 2013




Carl Grubbs, shown performing at Oct. 14 Baker Awards  show in Baltimore, appears with his ensemble for a Celebrating Strayhorn   show Nov. 14 at the Anacostia Community Museum in D.C.




Thanks! Vernard – for Celebrating Strayhorn shows

Area music fans have had a special treat this year with the treats Strayhorn Centennial Celebration series of concerts presented by East River Jazz.
“Celebrating Strayhorn!” a CA-FAM III, Inc. and East River Jazz? yearlong series of performances, public conversations, and dramatic readings culminates with events this month ending on Strayhorn’s birthdate, Nov. 29.
Vernard Gray of East River Jazz, quoted in the Baltimore Jazz Alliance September newsletter, says, “Since February 2nd, 2015, we have presented more than twenty-five conversations and performances celebrating the legacy of Billy Strayhorn. Although he composed such classic pieces as “Lush Life,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and “Something to Live For” on his own, Strayhorn is best known as the composing partner of Duke Ellington; they co-composed some of the Ellington orchestra’s most famous songs, like “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Satin Doll,” and the pieces in Ellington’s “Far East Suite.”
On Sunday, Nov. 1, there is a “Strayhorn and Beyond Rooftop Jazz Brunch” featuring saxophonist Craig Alston’s ensemble at the Inn at the Black Olive restaurant, 803 S. Caroline St. in Baltimore. On Nov. 10 there is the “Gill/Dunn Exploring Strayhorn: East & West of the Blues” show at 7 p.m. at the Anacostia Playhouse in Southeast D.C. The concert features pianist Janelle Gill and her group, with Marshall Keys, saxophones, James King, bass, Adia Gill, cello and Savannah Harris, percussion; and trumpeter Freddie Dunn and his group, with Lionel Lyles, reeds, Todd Simon, piano, Ethan Philion, bass and John Lamkin III, drums. their respective ensembles.
The groups will “explore rarely performed Billy Strayhorn compositions along with familiar songs – Lush Life, Chelsea Bridge, Blood Count and Take the A Train – that most are familiar with,” according to East River Jazz information. A “Come Dance to Strayhorn” show at 2 p.m., Nov. 11; “Paris Blues: A Viewing and Conversation” at 7 p.m., Nov. 12 and “Day Dream,” a dramatic reading about the life of Strayhorn, written by jazz vocalist Barry Moton and HIV activist Roderick Sheppard on Nov. 13, are all to be presented at the Anacostia Playhouse. On Nov. 14, a “Strayhorn and Hodges/Coltrane” show features the Carl Grubbs Ensemble at 2 p.m. at the Anacostia Community Museum.


KLstrayhorn pic

Karen Lovejoy appears with her Lovejo0y Group

for a Celebrating Strayhorn show Nov. 27

at the Kennedy Center

Other events in the series this month around the city include “Strayhorn Inspired: The Rick Henderson Catalogue” with the Bowie State University Community Jazz Band on Nov. 21 at Faith United Presbyterian Church in Southwest; “A Conversation with Freddie Dunn,” Nov. 21 at the Dorothy I. Height Benning Neighborhood Library; “Strayhorn, The Giant Who Lived in the Shadows,” with Karen Lovejoy and The Lovejoy Group Nov. 27 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage; and “A Strayhorn Centennial Celebration” Nov. 29 at a site to be determined.
For complete information, see http://www.eastriverjazz.net.



More Strayhorn with Charles Rahmat Woods at Vicino’s

Another “Celebrating Strayhorn” event is slated for 7 p.m., Monday, Nov.16 at Vicino’s featuring The Charles Rahmat Woods’ Trio Plus, presenting “A Tribute to Strayhorn: Avant Garde Interpretations”.
“Fresh out of a recent recording session,” according to Woods, “ the eclectic and fluid Trio Plus will consist of Rahmat on flute/saxophone, David Ornette Cherry (son of the late great trumpeter Don Cherry) on melodica and piano, Derek Gasque on organ keyboard, and Roger Stewart on drums.”


Charles Rahmat Woods
Vicino’s Restaurante Italiano is at 959 Sligo Ave, Silver Spring MD, 20910. Tickets can be purchased in advance ($20) via Blackberry Jazz and the JazzKnights, call (202) 670 0095.
For more information see http://www.blackberryjazz.com.


Chad Carter

Vocalist Chad Carter performs

Nov. 1 at Bohemian Caverns



No tricks, just jazzy treats with Conover tribute,
Meadows, Norris, Sun Ra and more for weekend

“Remembering Willis Conover,” a show in tribute to the longtime Voice of America jazz broadcast, features a group with saxophonist Paul Carr and bassist Victor Dvoskin at Westminster Presbyterian Church tonight, Friday, Oct. 30, followed by a Thinking About Jazz show tomorrow at Westminster honoring Conover with programmer and historian Larry Appelbaum.
Tonight at the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel is the show “Remembering Ron Elliston and Ronnie Wells.” Also tonight is the Sun Ra Arkestra at Liv, above the Bohemian Caverns, while keyboard wiz Mark Meadows begins a two-night stay downstairs at the Caverns, and trumpeter Alex Norris opens a two-night gig up the street at Twins Jazz.
And at the Kennedy Center Friday Oct. 30, is the final night for “Collaborating for Jason+, a new multidisciplinary series, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran and celebrated choreographer Ronald K. Brown bring together their respective ensembles for a night of jazz and dance.”




Danielle Wertz appears Nov. 1

at Bethesda Blues & Jazz

Sunday Nov. 1, the Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet is at the Jazz and Cultural Society in Northeast D.C.; vocalist Lena Seikaly headlines the DC Jazz Jam session at The Brixton; vocalist Chad Carter appears at Bohemian Caverns, with Frank Owens, piano, Herman Burney, bass, Nasar Abadey, drums and Paul Carr on saxophone; and the same night vocalist Danielle Wertz and Shacara Rogers appear with pianist Chris Grasso’s Trio at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda.
Monday night Nov. 2 features pianist Dan Tepfer in the Piano Jazz Series at the Arts Club of Washington. If you are up for traveling up north a bit, D.C.’s queen of song Sharon Clark appears Tuesday Nov. 3 at The Iridium in New York City, with pianist Grasso, Matthew Parish on bass, and Lenny Robinson, drums.
Golden toned saxophonist Marshall Keys holds forth at the Hill Center Nov. 5, the Twins Jazz Orchestra is at Twins Jazz Nov. 5, with John Lamkin’s “Favorites” Jazz Quintet at Twins Nov. 6-7. Saturday Nov. 7 Lafayette Gilchrist and the Composer Collective play at Caton Castle in Baltimore. The next Transparent Productions show Nov. 8 at Bohemian Caverns features dynamic guitarist Mary Halvorson with bassist Stephan Crump, with saxophonist Don Braden performing up the road at the Baltimore Museum of art that night.





Pianist Tim Whalen performs with a septet

Nov. 27-28 at Twins Jazz



Other November highlights include vocalist Karen Gray at Vicino’s Nov. 9; the Vocal Workshop at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club Nov. 9, with pianist Grasso and friends; the “Celebrating Great Women of Jazz” show at the Kennedy Center Nov. 14; Chris Grasso’s fundraising event for the Jazz and Cultural Society Nov. 17 at JACS with Grasso, piano, Lyle Link, sax, Herman Burney, bass and Samuel Prather, drums; the Howard University Jazz Ensemble’s fall concert, featuring trombonist Andre Heyward Nov. 19 at Rankin Memorial Chapel; Roberta Gambarini Nov. 19-22 at Blues Alley; the Abbey Lincoln Story with vocalist Heidi Martin Nov. 20 at Westminster; Bobby Felder’s Big Band the next week, Nov. 27 at Westminster, and the Tim Whalen Septet Nov. 27-28 at Twins Jazz.

InPerson … Tim Whalen/C.V. Dashiell

Pianist Tim Whalen and drummer C.V. Dashiell led a group that stormed through several hot numbers at Westminster Presbyterian Church in early October, featuring the music of Art Blakey. Tenor saxist Tedd Baker and alto sax guru Marty Nau helped highlight the opening “One by One” with bluesy riffs; “Crisis” was a rocker speared by trumpeter Joe Herrera and Whalen’s piano runs; and “Split Kick” soared with the horns leading the way, with Reginald Cyntje on trombone; and Cyntje added more sizzle on “Plexus,” also powered by Baker’s hot sax and Whalen’s rippling melodies on piano. (And check out The Living Room Sessions at http://www.timothywhalen.com)


InPerson/InReview….Shannon Gunn & Bullettes/New CD

The Nomadic Jazz show in October at the Durant Arts Center in Alexandria, Va., served to again display the polished, varied artistry of trombonist Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes ensemble, with solid renderings of big band and other standards and originals. One highlight was “Blue Moo,” by Leigh Pilzer, one of our well known Washington Women In Jazz all-stars, turned into a sweetly lyrical, swaying gem, Gunn and alto saxophonist Halley Shoenberg leading the horns, including young Ingrid Winkler on baritone sax, with Dan Roberts on piano and Cyndy Elliott on bass. Other highlights included the jamming “Simon Sez,” and “Nigeria,” a Gunn composition notable for its edgy, avant arrangement.

The concert highlighted several tunes from the new CD by Gunn, “Bullettes and Friends.” Gunn, the area resident who earned a master’s degree from George Mason University and also studied at Michigan State University, has become known for leading her all-women’s big bands and playing with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. With only six pieces on her latest CD, the recording makes you wish for more but what is here is tasty, beginning with “Australian Mood,” by Bullettes tenor saxophonist Anita Thomas, a free-flowing melody highlighted by the harmonic sax, trumpet and trombone sections, over the solid rhythm section of Elliott, bass, Lewis, drums and pianist Miki Yamanaka with her lyrical, clear crystal touch. “Simon Sez” on the CD turns into a whipping jam behind Miki Yamanaka’s rippling piano and Elliott’s grooves on bass under the swinging horns, including Alex Flanagan’s eloquent baritone sax lines. A deeply bluesy “Stormy Monday” with vocals by Taylar Lee, and Carter Stevens’ rumbling organ, and a sweetly melancholy “Embraceable You” with Lee again on vocals and Jerry Bresee, guitar, provide an interlude from the big band sounds, that return on “Nigeria.”
The tune takes its edgy cue from Elliott’s opening bass solo, which smoothly segues into a rising horn harmonies forming a haunting melody, powered by Lewis’ raps and rolls and intermittent horn riffs, squeals and sighs, moans and cries, the tension tightening with Elliott’s insistent bass work. Gunn’s urgent trombone riffs and the other horns free form riffs over Lewis’ rapping and then pounding, provide a starkly visual musical tone poem, brightened by Yamanaka’s piano accents, and then her fluid, whipping solo—and then more of Lewis’ percussive melodies.
See http://www.bullettesjazz.com for more on Gunn and the Bullettes.


InReview … Romain Collin’s “Press Enter”

Insistently intriguing with a melodic flair may be the best way to describe the flowing sounds of pianist Romain Collin’s latest recording, “Press Enter.” Multi-faceted without being overly complex, Collin’s compositional prowess is on full display here, with the CD’s title ironically emanating from one of the music’s most formidable purveyors of complex rhythms presented in always starkly entertaining formats: Wayne Shorter.
As the recording’s publicity reveals, Shorter, on tour with Collin and Herbie Hancock, mused to Collin one day that “people who spend their whole lives talking about plans, ideas, or dreams without ever seeming to take action …” … then Shorter went silent “before bursting out with an urgent commandment: ‘Press enter!’ ”
Collin said, “I started laughing, but I thought the wording was genius.”
So “Press Enter,” was released last month, presenting a session with Collin, Luques Curtis, double bass, Kendrick Scott, drums as the core group, with guest artists adding vocals, percussion and other elements. Recorded two years ago, Collin’s third release as a leader is highlighted early by the rolling “Clockwork,” with Collin’s edgy melody on piano alternately rumbling and singing, over Scott’s cascading drum work and the sizzling percussion. “Raw, Scorched and Untethered” lives up to its title with more insistent pianist rumbling, accented by Curtis’ grooves on bass, and the whipping percussion. “Holocene” is a graceful, spacey, spiraling interlude, before “Kids” becomes a romping jam, that stops and starts, meanders and sets off again — seemingly, appropriately, as kids do — augmented by pianist Jean-Michel-Pilc’s whistles.


“Event Horizon” is a dramatic turn on the “stories of prisoners freed from decades-long jail terms or death sentences” followed by the equally dramatic “The Line [Dividing Good And Evil Cuts Through The Heart of Every Human Being” and Collin’s take on Thelonius Monk’s ” ‘Round Midnight” eloquently closes an emotional journey.
The French native Collin, who came over the water to attend the Berklee College of Music, again provides music that lifts, soothes and also provokes and prods, with a visual effect that reflects his talents as “an experienced composer of film music with multiple orchestra soundtrack credits to his name.”
See http://www.romaincollin.com for more information.



Christie Dashiell

Christie Dashiell is a semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Vocals Competition


Congrats Monk semifinalists!

Way to go and best of luck to area vocalists Lena Seikaly, Christie Dashiell and Danielle Wertz who are among 11 semifinalists for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition to be held Nov. 14-15 in Los Angeles. Winner receives a $25,000 music scholarship, a recording contract with Concord Music Group, and the prestige of winning a Monk competition. See http://www.monkinstitute.org for more information.

Steve Monroe is a Washington, D.C. writer who can be reached at steve@jazzavenues.com and followed atwww.twitter.com/jazzavenues.

Jazz Avenues March 2014 BLOG

Jazz Avenues March 2014 Blog

by Steve Monroe




… follow @jazzavenues


 Celebrate spring … and the coming of JAM

For starters, John Coltrane and the 50th anniversary of his composition “A Love Supreme” will be celebrated in a series of in-museum, online and community events developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History beginning Wednesday March 26, according to museum information, with a webcast at 11 am of a private Jazz Appreciation Month launch ceremony at the museum.



Portrait of John Coltrane by artist Joseph Holston

from smithsonianjazz.org


“A Love Supreme” is Coltrane’s musical hymn, says Smithsonian information, “about the transformation that faith and music sparked in his life … [his] musical declaration of spirituality and faith in a loving God who supported him through drug addiction and other human failures. The original “A Love Supreme” music score will be on exhibition in “American Stories” at the museum through June 17. A specially created image of Coltrane by artist Joseph Holston graces the Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month commemorative poster. Also Wednesday March 26, the Ravi Coltrane Quartet performs in honor of the anniversary of “A Love Supreme” at 7:30 p.m. at Lisner Auditorium, presented by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the George Washington University music department. Tickets are free with RSVP; go to www.lisner.gwu.edu/ravi-coltrane-quartet for complete information.

JAM events at the Smithsonian begin with a workshop at 1:30 pm and a concert at 6 pm on April 4 by Bobby Sanabria and Quartet Ache in the Warner Brothers Theater at the American History Museum.

For more information on the webcast, go to www.smithsonianjazz.org.



Charles Rahmat Woods, on flute, plays at Maggiano’s

Restaurant in Northwest D.C. March 26, April 16 and 30.


Also coming up this week are shows Wednesday March 26 by the Charles Rahmat Woods Trio at Maggiano’s in Northwest DC. Woods, the multi-talented flute, sax player and bandleader, has recently released his solo CD, “The Language of Birds” on his Rahmat Shabazz (www.rahmatshabazz.com) label. The recording, flavored with Native American and African melodies, is a “Jazz meditation,” says Woods, with his flute and saxophone playing weaving an artful, spiritual journey. Stay tuned for more on “The Language of Birds” and Woods, who is also scheduled at Maggiano’s April 16 and 30.

Also Wednesday March 26 is a performance at the Howard Theatre of Indigo Love & The Renaissance Trio featuring Nasar Abadey, Allyn Johnson & James King, as part of a series of Jazz at the Howard shows. Other shows in the series are Jon Batiste & Stay Human March 29 and sax legend Gato Barbieri April 10.

Thad Wilson’s Big Band is at Columbia Station March 27, and also April 3, while The Loews Madison Hotel features Veronneau March 27, Lyle Link March 28, and Marshall Keys April 5, with young lion sax man Elijah Jamal Balbed returning to the Loews Madison April 11.
The Greater U Street Jazz Collective, still receiving acclaim for its “Balling the Jack” CD, is at Twins Jazz March 27; the Antonio Parker Jazz Quintet is at Westminster, Bassist Kris Funn performs at the Hill Center March 28; and multi-dimensional pianist Tim Whalen is at Twins Jazz March 28-29. Up the road a bit, the Steve Davis and Larry Willis Quintet performs March 30 at Caton Castle (www.catoncastle.com) in Baltimore and Transparent Productions jazz at Bohemian Caverns March 30 features vocalist Leena Conquest.


Trumpeter and bandleader Thad Wilson is the artist

in residence on Tuesdays in April at Bohemian Caverns.

Thad Wilson is also at Bohemian Caverns on Tuesdays in April beginning April 1; Pianist Janelle Gill performs in Burnett Thompsons’s Piano in The White House Series April 3 at the David M. Rubenstein Center for White House History at The Decatur House at Lafayette Square, focusing on the late Marian McPartland’s 1998 White House performance. For more information, contact Burnett@PianoJazz.com.

VocalisKrislynn Perry is at the UDC Recital Hall April 7 and the Atlas features Andriessen’s Piano/Andriessen’s Jazz with the Brad Linde Ensemble April 9. And don’t forget Cyrus Chestnut, April 10 at Blues Alley, Branford Marsalis April 12 at the George Mason University Performing Arts Center, and Transparent Productions’ show April 13 at Bohemian Caverns featuring Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures, a diverse and multi-instrumental event.


 Black History Month in person … Carl Grubbs Ensemble

 Carl Grubbs lifted his alto sax and speared the air in the Randallstown Community Center auditorium with plaintive cries on “Softly As in A Morning Sunrise,” and pianist Eric Byrd added his own melodic touches while bassist Blake Meister wove a bluesy symphony of his own to highlight the opening of a special Black History Month show Feb. 28 in Randallstown, just outside of Baltimore.

Composer and bandleader Grubbs, the native of Philadelphia who spent several years back in the day on the Washington jazz scene before spending much of his time in recent years playing and teaching in the Baltimore area, was a fitting bandleader for the program, his career having spanned learning at the knee, literally of his cousin John Coltrane, and playing and traveling all over with many giants of the music. (See www.carlgrubbsjazz.com, check the photo page for a panoramic view of jazz black history, by the way.)



Composer, bandleader and educator

Carl Grubbs played Feb. 28 in Randallstown.


That night Grubbs featured special guest violinist John Blake Jr., himself a history lesson. It was Blake’s singing violin that helped take “Sunrise” out in swinging fashion. Drummer John Lamkin III highlighted “Summertime,” deftly meshing with Blake’s lullabies on violin, before Grubbs stepped things up with some urgent riffs and squeals on his alto. The group entertained the large crowd with a bluesy, funky “Hard Times” and a rousing “All Blues,” among other tunes, making for a thoroughly jazz evening that drew long applause and cheers from the audience.


Women in Jazz Weave Windfall of Sound

 On a rainy night March 19, the night before spring, per the calendar, bloomed, a sterling ensemble of women musicians flowered the cozy Union Arts space on New York Avenue in Northeast D.C. with some bright, jazzy, edgy and warm sounds for the Washington Women in Jazz Festival’s gala night co-sponsored by CapitalBop.


Bassist Karine Chapdelaine played several sterling

sets during Washington Women in Jazz Festival


One might close their eyes and throw out gender labels when recalling the artistry that night, with festival founder and pianist Amy K. Bormet and drummer Allison Miller leading their band mates, kicking things off on guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Latin-flavored “Hemorrhaging Smiles,” that had Miller pushing and pounding things along on drums, Bormet accenting with her piano melodies with trumpeter Jamie Branch providing the fire with her trumpet lines, and harmonizing with saxophonist Sarah Hughes. Halvorson spiced things up even more with her stinging and jaunty lines on guitar.

“Lullaby” featured Halvorson’s sometimes sardonic guitar lines weaving in and out of the horns’ harmony, over Miller’s cymbal work and Bormet’s twirling notes on piano.  Hughes highlighted “Forgiveness,” with some bluesy, abstract grooves and bassist Karine Chapdelaine’s lyrical lines. Other numbers featured Bormet with edgier sounds of her own on piano, as on “Syracuse,” spiced by the horns of Branch and Hughes and Chapdelaine’s bass over Miller’s always vibrant drumming.


washwomenin jazz2012

Festival founder and pianist Amy Bormet, left, with

her Washington Women in Jazz all-stars in 2012.


Bormet’s festival, in its fourth year, had other highlights during its week at various sites, including shows by vocalist Integriti Reeves at Bohemian Caverns and the big band sounds of Shannon Gunn and her Bullettes at Westminster Presbyterian Church.



Blue Waters, White Puffy Clouds on “Slow Down (This Isn’t The Mainland)”


What pianist Romain Collin has crafted in his new CD “Slow Down (This Isn’t The Mainland)” with his group, The North, with Shawn Conley on double bass and Abe Lagrimas Jr. on drums, is a finely textured work of melodic good feeling. Collin, heard last year at Bohemian Caverns, is the native of France who has fashioned some intriguing albums and performances in recent years.

His group The North is described as a new “cooperative” trio, called by Conley “a band, not just a piano trio … our love of music from a wide variety of genres binds us.”

The band’s publicity material says, “Conley and Lagrimas Jr., longtime friends and Hawaii natives, met the French-born Collin on the U.S. mainland, where each was establishing a growing reputation as a resourceful instrumentalist. The pull of the islands was strong though, and the three friends, who were only playing together informally at the time, were invited to visit Hawaii for a ten-day series of public performances.”

And, impressed with their playing, a CD was born, lushly inspired by their Hawaii location, Oahu’s North Shore. As a result, “The North” has plenty of blue water and blue skies and white puffy clouds, for instance, as we glide along “Great Ocean Road,” and meander during “Slow Down,” but it also has some bite to it.

“Humpty Dumpty” sings a vibrant song with Conley’s double bass bowing a particular highlight, and Collin’s quicksilver riffing on piano over Lagrimas Jr.’s deft work on cymbals. Collin’s clear, crystal touch is his calling card throughout, brightening another highlight of the disc, “Dowsett Avenue” a jaunty, lilting rocker, and the Thelonious Monk tune “Light Blue,” which becomes an appropriately melancholy waltz, and the graceful “Northern Dreams,” which, in its dramatic directness maybe the high point of the recording.


Whiteley a pulsating wonder on “Pathless Land”

Proving at home on piano and organ on the recently released “Pathless Land” on the Destiny Records label, Brad Whiteley on the organ especially entertains us geezers who cut our listening chops on the organ masters of old like Jimmy Smith, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland and others. And Whiteley on piano creates some impressive lyrical runs of artistry.



“Pathless Land” CD cover from http://www.bradwhiteley.com


Whiteley has fashioned a long career as a “musically diverse” sidemen, says the CD’s publicity, having played with those like Christian McBride, Maria Schneider and others in jazz, and also groups in the pop and rock world. His piano mentors include Fred Hersch and Jason Moran and he cites Mike LeDonne, Sam Yahel and Melvin Rhyne as organ influences.

He says of his lyrical sound: “I’ve worked with so many singers … and I really appreciate the power of a song. My favorite songwriters walk a fine line between accessibility and sophistication, a balance I strive for in my own writing.”

Highlights of “Pathless Land” begin with “Erika’s Song,” a pretty, lilting waltz-like number that previews Whiteley’s darting piano touch. Things get moving on “Come Rain or Come Shine,” with Whiteley digging in on organ to propel the standard into a bristling romp, powered by Daniel Foose’s nimble, grooving touch on bass and Kenneth Salters’ deft comping on drums. Guitarist Andrew Lim accents the tune perfectly with his slicing spirals through the melody and beyond, and Whiteley’s arrangement slows the tempo in the middle then ramps it back up for a solid reading of a jazz warhorse.

“No Regrets” again provides a showcase for Whiteley’s piano charms, and his compositional skill, with him and Foose trading riffs expertly. “Nostalgiastic” is another organ romp, this one Whiteley’s own, with a deeply bluesy and soulful blend. And “Brooklyn Hustle” steps up the organ groove again, Lim again helping the group romp through another taste of hard-charging jazzy soul.