I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Oasis: The Music of Gregg Hill, from Rodney Whitaker and it's a strong outing. Opening with bass driven, Betty's Tune featuring Rockelle Fortin on lead vocal. Bruce Barth on piano, Whitaker on bass and Dana Hall on drums really cement this piece together and excellent top work by Terell Stafford on trumpet and Tim Warfield really highlight the track. Excellent opener. Next up is Puppets with it's quiet piano/drum/bass bottom and Stafford with his muted trumpet laying out the melody. As the tune lays back into a more bop feel, Warfield on soprano sax really sings. Barth kicks it to double time on piano with a exciting piano solo and Whitaker stands out with the standup. Very cool. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Minorabilia with it's traditional bop feel. Stafford on trumpet and Warfield on tenor sax hold the melody, reinforced by Barth on piano. This track really hits a great groove featuring first Barth on piano. His phrasing is tight and lush, expanded by Whitaker and Hall who double time the rhythm. Stafford really sits down in the groove and kicks it before handing if off to Warfield on tenor reminding me of the Miles/Cannonball exchanges of the 50's. An energetic bass solo by Whitaker with only punctuation by Barth and snappy drum rhythm by Hall ...Really terrific. With it's walking bass line, Blues For Gregg, Whitaker wastes no time stepping front and center laying down the first solo, punctuated by Barth on piano. Taking the reins, Barth really gets things moving with great movement, followed by Warfield on sax. Stafford's trumpet work on this track is really strong with perfect tone and heat and Hall's footwork works nicely with his snare attack. Great tune. Wrapping the release is title track, Oasis, the most radio like track on the release featuring Fortin on vocal over a primarily spartan backing. A tasty trumpet solo by Stafford, a stylish soprano sax solo by Warfield, and a particularly groovy piano solo by Barth, folllowed by a funky bass solo by Whitaker make this i solid closer for a reall cool release.
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