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CD Review: Pharez Whitted “For The People” 

Origin Records

Jazz albums can sometimes be so cerebral and avant-garde that you find yourself searching the tracks for any semblance of a melody. But the latest project by the excellent Chicago trumpeter Pharez Whitted is just the opposite. The tunes are so wonderfully melodic - downright catchy even - that it might make you wonder if jazz could regain some of its long-lost popularity. The title has it just right; this album is clearly for the people.

The title track is actually one of the disc’s few slow tunes, a lovely ballad by Whitted. Most of his songs (he wrote them all) are more on the order of “Watusi Boogaloo,” which gets the album off to a dancing start. Whitted is a consistently engaging composer; there’s not a weak link among the eleven tracks.

Aside from Whitted’s strong compositions and arrangements, “For The People” features some of the top players on Chicago’s formidable jazz scene. Whitted’s pungent trumpet forays are nicely matched by the sinuous saxophone solos of Eddie Bayard. Inventive guitarist Bobby Broom not only contributes outstanding solos, he co-produced the session. Rounding out this superb band are Ron Perrillo on piano, Dennis Carroll, bass and Greg Artry, drums.

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