Rodney Whitaker : Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill Review
Bassist Rodney Whitaker has assembled a refined quintet to present the music of composer Gregg Hill. The ensemble is Terell Stafford on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tim Warfield on tenor and soprano saxophones, Bruce Barth on piano, and Dana Hall on drums. Vocalist Rockelle Fortin also appears in four songs. Hill is a composer that has published over 145 original jazz compositions across various albums. Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill presents ten compositions by Hill and one by Whitaker.
“Puppets” is a beautiful waltz-time composition that shows the power of Hill’s harmonic and melody relationships as well as the ensemble’s keen ability to listen to each other and create a space of groove and exploration. Stafford uses the Harmon mute to color his solo. Warfield chooses his soprano saxophone for his solo; his lines are clear and develop logically. In addition, the soprano saxophone pairs nicely with the Harmon mute. Barth also develops a rousing solo. “Puppets” is an excellent example of a great composition combined with an outstanding ensemble.
“S’Cool Days” has a catchy melody and a node to the hard bop era. The formidable group raises the energy with the dynamic two-horn frontline and propelling rhythm section. Whitaker and Hall create a feel of two deeply connected souls adorning the swing. The composition has many twists and turns that give it character. The composition plays out beautifully as everyone is at the top of their game, navigating every twist and turn with agility and assurance.
Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill is a rewarding listen. Hill’s compositions are fresh while still in line with the jazz tradition, and the ensemble performances are all wonderful. Whitaker’s tone and direction anchor the ensemble solidly, as the communication between the players is constant and pleasing. In the end, Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill consistently brings excellent writing and playing, resulting in a fantastic listening event.
Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill
November 18, 2022