Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lenny White – Venusian Summer

   Many drummers are playing strong patterns with broken rhythms while others look for more melodic way of using percussion sounds. Some are trying to find balance between these options and one of them is Lenny White who made a great opening in legendary Bitches Brew album. He is one of most versatile artists and one of best drummers of fusion music. He became legendary drummer of second Return to Forever lineup, recording four albums in 1970’s and the reunion live album Returns in 2009. He played also with fusion band Azteca and as sideman with jazz giants Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola, Larry Coryell, Jaco Pastorius, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller and Don Cherry. 
   Lenny White is also the leader of his own bands and projects. Since 1975 to 1983 he recorded 10 albums under his own name. After seven years of silence, he comes back with The Manhattan Project in 1990 and with Michel Petrucciani, Marcus Miller, Biréli Lagrène and Kenny Garrett in 1994. Recording next albums he took part in many artistic undertakings like Vertú with Stanley Clarke, Karen Briggs, Rachel Z and Richie Kotzen from 1999. He played with Michal Urbaniak’s Urbanator and in numerous projects featuring various funky jazz artists. During decades after his debut recording has been published, his position on jazz scene became as solid as influential but Venusian Summer released by Nemperor Records (NE 435) still remains his creative and well established achievement.

Lenny White – Venusian Summer (1975)

   Program of this album comprises six compositions in various arrangements. It was recorded in June and August 1975 in famous Electric Lady Studios in New York. The group of accompanying musicians is carefully selected band of artists. Main counterweight is mainly electronic keyboard instruments, organs, electric pianos and synthesizers with three masters of Hammond’s organ Jimmy Smith, Larry Young. Others were David Sancious, Weldon Irvine, and Onaje Allan Gumbs. Some electronics were in 1975 state of the art equipment. In eponymous suite Patrick Gleeson was playing various synthesizers like Oberheim Digital Sequencer and others. Lenny White in this suite played also non percussive instruments, Minimoog, Eμ synthesizer, ARP 2600 and acoustic piano and snap bass. Important part of the group were guitarists Larry Coryell, Al DiMeola, Doug Rodrigues and Raymond Gomez. Fixed part of the band was bass player Doug Rauch. There are only two parts with wind and brass – flutist Hubert Laws is playing in 2nd part of Venusian Summer and Tom Harrel playing flugelhorn took part in Prince of the Sea.
   Most of the material was composed and arranged by the leader. The style of this music is a variant of fusion esthetics with some electronic reinforcements. Sound is rich but still lucid with clear tendency to funky articulations and thick dancing sound. It looks like own Lenny White’s vision of jazz and rock fusion. He is very convincing as a creator of musical constructions and forms, drawing moods and building landscapes out of the ambient sound. The vision of Venusian Summer has been catched in the cover illustration by Larry Kresek, recognized painter and illustrator. Very good record, four stars for perfect realization and pure musical instinct. 

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