Pharez Whitted – For the People – Origin Records 82624 [10/16/12], 66:17 ****:
(Pharez Whitted, trumpet; Eddie Bayard, tenor and soprano sax; Bobby Broom, guitar; Ron Perrillo, piano and keyboards; Dennis Carroll, bass; Greg Artry, drums)
Pharez Whitted may be primarily known in the Midwest areas of Chicago and Indianapolis as a talented trumpeter, composer, and educator- however with the release of his new Origin Records release, For the People, that all may change. Pharez comes from a strong jazz musical heritage as his mother (bassist, Virtue Hampton Whitted) is the sister of the legendary trombone player Slide Hampton. His father is a drummer and his aunts and uncles play horns and saxophones in the Indianapolis area. Whitted’s grandparents regularly hosted the legendary Montgomery Brothers, and Freddie Hubbard at their home, so Pharez was steeped in the jazz tradition.
At age 52, Pharez is a professor of music at Chicago State University. We reviewed his April 2010, Owl Studios CD, Transient Journey, noting that it had been 14 years since his last CD release. Luckily, it has taken only two years later for his maiden effort on Origin Records to be released, returning with the same band as on Transient Journey. With some airplay, Whitted’s stature should be enhanced now on both Coasts.
Pharez composed all the tracks on For the People, and they have an infectious hard bop based feel to them that brings to mind vintage Blue Note circa 1960s. “Watusi Boogaloo” would be at home on a Rare Groove issue. Saxist Eddie Bayard adds his funky touch, and pianist Ron Perrillo brings in a gospel vibe before ace guitarist Bobby Broom has his say. Pharez and Eddie blend well.
“If They Only Could See” has a relaxed groove with Bayard’s soprano sax featured. “Freedom Song” is post entering into a modal free jazz mode with drummer Artry opening up territory for the horns to explore. The title cut has a reflective beauty highlighted by Whitted’s burnished tone on the trumpet.
Funk returns on “It Is What It Is,” appropriately titled. “Keep the Faith” and “Hope Springs Eternal” have a polished sheen that show that Whitted’s group is ready for greater exposure. It’s time to take it on the road to a new level “for the people.”
TrackList: Watusi Boogaloo, If They Could Only See, Another Kinda Blues, Freedom Song, For the People, It Is What It Is, Sad Eyes, Keep the Faith, The Unbroken Promise, Venture, Hope Springs Eternal
This is a delightful holiday collection.