Scott Whitfield

Speaking of Love

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Trombonist/composer/arranger and bandleader Scott Whitfield has sung on a few of his earlier albums, but on this occasion he dives in head first, concentrating as much on vocals as his trombone playing. This session, which concentrates on songs popular in the 1930s and 1940s, has a strong cast of instrumentalists, including guests Bucky Pizzarelli, Marvin Stamm, Scott Robinson (heard on the rarely featured bass sax), plus Whitfield, his rhythm section and the Manhattan Vocal Project (the leader plus three instrumentalists, all of whom double on Four Freshmen-like harmony vocals). But Whitfield just isn't a strong enough vocalist to devote an entire CD to singing, which makes it difficult to hear this release all the way through in one sitting. His originals on this date are also less memorable than those heard on his earlier Summit recordings, though his arrangements of familiar standards are enjoyable. The vocal highlights feature Cheryl Bentyne, especially her adept handling of Bill Evans' "Adagio in Pearl" (a vocal treatment of "Bill's Hit Tune"), though she is hampered a bit by Whitfield trying to keep up with her vocally. This isn't a bad release, but as many singing jazz instrumentalists have realized over the years, unless you are an outstanding vocalist, it is best to take only occasional turns at the mic.

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