Rodney Whitaker: Outrospection: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin Records, 2021)

April 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rodney Whitaker: Outrospection: The Music of Gregg Hill

Rodney Whitaker, a Detroit-born musician and Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, arranges several compositions by Lansing’s Gregg Hill, with musicians from MSU’s jazz faculty. The record was made under COVID lockdown with all the musicians socially distanced in different booths, but it still sounds cohesive. Whitaker’s daughter Rockelle, who has a deep, sultry voice in the tradition of all the classic jazz divas, sings her own lyrics on four songs. Apart from those, “Dollah Hollah” is uptempo and short and dedicated to Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand), plus the title makes me think of “dolla dolla make ya holla”. “Bridge to Nashua” is longer but also energetic. “J-Quest” has a good bit of lead trombone by Michael Dease (who also plays on opener “Outrospection”). “Cadillac Club” is just a really sweet post-bop tune which just goes. “The Peace Song” wraps it all up with a joyous (instrumental) plea for unity — relaxed and unstrained, but budding with love and hope.

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