“Composer/drummer Chip White and his quartet feature the vocals of Gail Allen on White’s latest, Music and Lyrics. Both elements of the title are supplied by White himself; each tune is an original. White’s tunes are lively and entertaining; his lyrics whimsical at times and poignant at others. He showcases the band and Allen’s vocals in several different assemblages, keeping things fresh and interesting. The material is well written and well performed.
Music and Lyrics begins with “Blues for Cousin Alice,” a medium tempo blues performed by the trio of White, pianist Lafayette Harris, and bassist George Kaye. White plays the head with brushes and stays with them for the bass solo, which is placed first, in an unorthodox manner. After a piano solo during which White switches to sticks, the band trades sixes over the twelve-bar blues form. “The Luckiest Girl” is the first of many beautiful ballads to feature Gail Allen’s vocals, delivered in a fitting and unique manner. Houston Person also joins the band, on tenor sax. Allen also sings “Bossa de Bahia,” a medium/up bossa nova, which begins with a scat solo. Fine tenor and piano solos on this one. “Drums on the Riverside” is a short solo drum composition. It fades in and out on a funky groove, with energetic and technical soloing in between.
The program continues with another ballad, with Allen’s vocals again in the forefront, “Rain.” The tune is set in a very slow tempo and a very laid-back feel. Following this is “October Song,” a bouncy waltz, again with a lyric by White and vocals by Allen. “Club 609” again features vocals, this time in a medium shuffle/swing feel with band hits echoing the vocals. The band is scaled down again to the trio for “The Contessa,” a ballad which serves as a showcase for pianist Lafayette Harris. “28 Drums” is another short drum solo, this time with an Art Blakey Latin tom-tom flavor. Gail Allen delivers another tender ballad with “I Never Knew.” She is backed only by the trio on the light waltz “Circle Dance.” The CD closes with “Time Stood Still,” a ballad-esque funk tune. Person blows a particularly nice solo on this track.
Music and Lyrics is a unique CD with enough twists and turns to hold your interest. There is a light, airy feel to the tunes and the band interprets them appropriately. White is a fine composer as well as a supportive drummer. Allen is a vocalist perfectly matched for White’s light and relaxed compositional style.. The tight rhythm section and the impressive sound of Houston Person at the tenor round out the CD, making it one definitely worth adding to your collection.”
- Dave Miele
Jazz Improv (Spring 2006)