Michael White

Voices

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AllMusic Review by

Violinist Michael White is a respected figure on the modern jazz scene, one of the earliest exponents of his instrument during the free jazz movement of the '60s; his résumé includes stints with Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, John Coltrane and others. Out of respect for his tremendous accomplishments and contributions, one hesitates to be too critical of this album, which was made as a celebration of the thirty-year anniversary of his Impulse! release Land of Spirit and Light (and includes several of the sidemen who contributed to that album). And yet there is, unfortunately, no way to ignore the serious flaws on this album. It opens in a distinctly unpromising way, with the abstract and apparently free "Message from the Sky," a tune that meanders aimlessly and features rather whiny wordless vocals from Leisei Chen. Things get a bit better with "Circumambulation," which is composed and features some very lovely guitar playing from Timothy Young -- but it also features a painfully out-of-tune solo by White and a chord progression far too simple and repetitive to sustain interest throughout the tune's 12-minute length. The album's two strongest tracks are both Latin flavored: Chen's vocalese on "Serenade" is effortlessly beautiful, and the sweet chord changes and gentle bossa nova beat make this track a joy -- until White switches to pizzicato on his solo and goes out of tune again. The album closes on a strong note, though, with the lovely Caribbean-tinged "Fiesta Domincal." Overall, this disc is something of a disappointment.

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