CRITIC'S CHOICE Progressive drummer/composer Chip White's auspicious debut as a leader is a sharp sextet date featuring saxman Gary Bartz and a brass section of Robin Eubanks and Claudio Roditi. This smart, swinging set flies high with the taut pulse of the opening overture of "Another Planet," the entrancing beauty of "Circle Dance," the languid modal blues of "Excuse Me Now," and the powerful, propulsive theme of "The Wizard." The title track recalls Miles Davis's acoustic '60s tonalities, and the lyrical interplay between Bartz and vibist Steve Nelson embellishes his take on Bill Eckstine's "I Want to Talk About You.”

— Billboard, January 7 1995

For his first album as a leader, drummer White summoned several well-known players, including vibist Steve Nelson, trumpeter, Claudio Roditi, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and bassist Buster Williams. Although everyone demonstrates a level of professionalism, the disc would be worth the cost if only White's fresh-sounding, hardbop/modal-derived tunes and the resourceful improvising of altoist Gary Bartz.”

— Jazz Times

* * * * (four stars) Drummer White has managed to create and context and repertoire where his playing is pivotal but does not engulf the proceedings on this excellernt album, one that recalls the early work of Tony Williams for the Blue Note label in its lucid ensemble sound. That sound is shaped by White's juxtabposition of three horns (trumpet, trombone, and saxophone) against a rhythm section of only bass (Buster Williams), his drums and vibes, with Steve Nelson playing the latter in a spiky fashion, creating off-rhythms to complement White's flowing drum patterns. White's drumming can be almost cubistic in its crips edginess as he pointilistically builds rolling polyrhythms, as in the multi-odd-metered (6/4 and 3/6?) "Another Planet," where a cinematically heroic, heraldic theme courses over ripping drum patterns that continue behind horn solos inspired by the cubistic rhythmic motif. He takes a more supple tack on his own "Excuse Me Now," bringing a seductive flow to the 5/4 time signature made famous by Dave Brubeck to coax smooth solos from trumpeter Claudio Roditia and alto saxophonist Gary Bartz. White reinvents the racing 8/8 of fusion on "The Wizard," horns singing a floating theme over the sweetly rolling rhythm, alternating with a swinging 4/4 during bright solos by trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibist Nelson, and alto saxist Bartz. There are also interludes of 4/4 during the solos on the waltz "Circle Dance," deftly arranged to emphasize Bartz's lead soprano sax. Besides presinting a panoply of drum rhythms, times, and techniques (his burnished brush work on the Billy Eckstine ballad "I Want to Talk About You"), White presents an engaging program of mostly originals here, creatively arranged to present challenges for the soloists, who are aptly chosen for each piece. It makes for a thoroughly enjoyable, memorable album.” - George Kanzler

— Newark Star Ledger, November 18, 1994

Performance 8 Sound Quality 8 You've never heard of Chip White. Buy "Harlem Sunset" anyway. It has Claudio Roditi and Gary Bartz and Robin Eubanks, battle-proven warriors all. It has strong new lines on which to improvise (composed by White), solos which flame with passion, and startling immediacy. And it has a secret weapon. Bassist Buster Williams throbs and twitches at the center of every song like a shaman inciting bedevilment. White is a drummer with interesting concepts of how percussion can drive an ensemble without overwhelming it. He is an omnipresence, but he never keeps time. He lashes his cymbals by way of rhythmic inference and continuous commentary. His songs are all muscular, charging anthems, yet varied. "Another Planet" starts with drums alone and adds one horn at a time, setting off a cacophany which does not cohere into the theme for almost three minutes. "Club 609" (a Harlem venue where White gigs) is fond but definitely not sentimental. The minor motif of "The Wizard" evokes ominous ambiguities. (The Wizard, surely, is Buster Williams, pulsing like a heart of darkness.) The solos tell the tale. Trumpeter Roditi is one of the most original thinkers in jazz. His brief statement on "Excuse Me Now" finds sudden gleaming shapes at every turn. The album's only standard is "I Want to Talk About You." Bartz cries it out alone on luminous alto saxophone. Eubanks' trombone solo on "The Wizard" is a ritual dance full of stutter steps, a mysterious call, a summons. Harlem Sunset" is a very promising start for Chip White and a new jazz label, Postcards.” - Thomas Conrad

— New Music, April 1995

Performance: Splendid Recording: Very Good When I heard the self-indulgent intro to drummer Chip White's "Harlem Sunset," I thought I was in for an ear-pounding experience. I was wrong. Although White does hog the long opening selection, even when his sidemen step up front, the rest of the album could almost be considered and exercise in percussive restraint. (Don't misconstrue -- I'm not criticizing a drummer for expressing himself on his own album, but they do tend to go overboard.) This is White's first album as a leader, and he gives ample room to his horn players -- trumpeter Claudio Roditi, saxophonist Gary Bartz, and trombonist Robin Eubanks -- all of whom use the space to advantage (theirs and ours). This cohesive group's ensemble sound harks back to the Fifties and Sixties, but the individual statements, especially those from Bartz and Eubanks, bring it into the present. Bassist Buster Williams and vibist Steve Nelson round out the quintet and help the leader keep the rhythm flowing unobtrusively.”

— Stereo Review, March 1995

In fact, it was when Chip was performing with Etta [Jones] and Houston [Person] at the Top O'The Senator [that] I had the pleasure of meeting him. I found Chip brimming with enthusiasm about his music, especially his new CD, and poetry, yes I said poetry. I will get to that shortly. First the CD, Chp White Harlem Sunset, on a new independent label, Postcards Inc. . . . Six of the eight numbers on this recording are by Chip, and a credit to him as a proficient composer, nice stuff. The other pleasant surprise was Chip's book of jazz poems entitled I'm Just the Drummer in the Band . . . These poems actually swing, you can almost hear Chip behind them playing drums.” - Dave Milbourne, July/August 1998

— Toronto Jazz

* * * (three stars) Harlem Sunset," White's debut as a leader, contains inspired writing for sextet. Most of the tunes, all substantive, are White originals. Steve Newlson's vibes in place of a piano or guitar gives the band a different harmonic ring and shine in the rhythm section. White's formidable fills and solos suggest a combination of Blakey, former Cream Drummer Ginger Baker, and avant-garde drummer Sonny Murray. White studied with Alan Dawson, the famous jazz drummer and teacher from Boston. The horns are all first-class hard-boppers, alto and soprano saxophonist Gary Bartz, trumpeter and fluegelhorn player Claudio Roditi, and trombonist Robin Eubanks. Bassist Buster Williams anchors the bottom with resilient walking and commentary.” - Owen Cordle

— Raleigh (NC) News Observer

* * * * (four stars) Drummer Chip White has been around, and the opening drum solo of "Another Planet" isn't shy about telling you this is a drummer's date. But the best thing about it is the A-level group -- trombonist Robin Eubanks, bassist Buster Williams, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and Gary Bartz, a superb alto saxophonist almost as deserving of a comeback as Sonny Fortune (who got one earlier in the year with his superb Monk record on Blue Note). It's on a gutsy and tasty and wonderfully promising label run by Ralph Simon with the obvious aim of letting bold and often brilliant players have their say unimpeded. Bartz carried Jackie McLean's tone to all sorts of brilliant post-Coltrane places, and is still doing it, even though his reputation perversely refuses to rise. There is superlative playing all through "Harlem Sunset," expecially from Bartz (e.g., "I Want to Talk About You," with Nelson and Williams.” - Jeff Simon

— Buffalo (NY) News, December 23, 1994

Drummer/composer Chip White has been on the jazz scene long enough to rack up a range of career milestones. Born in 1946, White studied drums with his father and at Berklee "in the '60s, before it became a factory." After a stint in the Army, he spent two years with Tom Waits, gigged with Frank Wess, James Moody, Carmen McRae, John Abercrombie, Enrico Rava, Jimmy McGriff, and Jaki Byard. He also collaborated on a jazz musical with choreographer Kathy Sanson. Now White, who has spent the last two years playing with the Houston Person/Etta Jones Quntet, has his first record as a leader on the Postcards label. "Harlem Sunset" boasts the refreshing configuration of Robin Eubanks, Claudio Roditi, Gary Bartz, Steve Nelso, and Buster Williams, and it showcases White's compositional skill. The drumming, powerful without being bombastic, has the ring of maturity. His debut may have been a long time coming, but the upbeat White has no desire to trade places with any young lions. "It made a difference to be there to hear Coltrane, Monk, Bill Evans, and Mingus. I'm proud of my age, and I hope to get much older.”

— Musician, April 1995