Annie Whitehead

The Gathering

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There are few trombonists with the breadth and vision of Annie Whitehead. Not only is she able to perform in a multitude of genres but she has also absorbed diverse influences, from which she stamps her own sound. For this funkified outing, Whitehead assembled a group that includes vocalist Robert Wyatt, and longtime collaborator Ian Maidman as producer and guitarist, to participate in an exciting blend of styles. Wyatt's eerie vocals on "Before We Knew" evoke images of Gregorian chants. Whitehead's raunchy, big tone, especially on the opening of "The Lonely Heart (Part 1)" with a legato just this side of smear, reminds the listener of Harold Betters. Her tune, "The Lonely Heart (Part 2)" has a Jamaican flavor, with the sounds of legendary trombonist Don Drummond a clear influence. What makes this album so much fun is an accessibility that does not smother the creative impulses, so while many of the songs are danceable, artistic integrity is uncompromised. As a result, the music is likely to appeal to a wide spectrum, from hardcore post-boppers, to admirers of the music of Robert Wyatt, to those who enjoy the jazz-funk sounds of the Jazz Crusaders. It may come as a surprise to some to hear how well Whitehead writes. Her arrangements and compositions combine simple, catchy melodies with more adventurous fare, especially when she collaborates with Wyatt.

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