Pharez Whitted is a Chicago-based trumpeter, teacher and bandleader who’s made three albums of his own (including this one) since 1994, and has appeared as a guest or sideman on discs by Kobie Watkins, Ari Brown and John Mellencamp, among others. He’s very much a Freddie Hubbard-esque player, with a full command of the horn’s upper register and terrific control at relatively high speed, and the arrangements on this album remind me of Red Clay somewhat—the band features Eddie Bayard on tenor and soprano sax, Bobby Broom on guitar, Ron Perrillo on piano and keyboards, Dennis Carroll on bass and Greg Artry on drums. I’m only familiar with Broom, who I’ve heard here and there, notably on Sonny Rollins’ Reel Life and Sonny, Please. He’s a very tasteful player, and I mean that in a good way.
There’s a lot of music on Transient Journey (eleven tracks in seventy-one minutes), all of it in a soulful, boppish mode. Whitted plays the title track on flugelhorn, and while he never quite gets into Chuck Mangione territory, it definitely skirts the borders of smooth jazz. “Monkish” is a better piece; its inspiration is obvious, and would be even if you didn’t know the title—the melody lopes and lurches, and Perrillo gets herky-jerky, without going all the way into Thelonious Monk’s elbows-on-the-keyboard style. Carroll and Artry seem to relish the opportunity to swing more forcefully than they do on some of the other pieces, and Whitted and Bayard take big bites when it’s time to solo. Another dedication, “Our Man Barack,” is a little less successful; the melody feels simplistic, and it’s set atop a jumpy, but somewhat ordinary funk groove. When Whitted begins soloing, though, things get better. He’s rip-roaring, going hard in full mid ’60s Blue Note style.
Most of Whitted’s time is taken up with education; he’s the Director of Jazz Studies at Chicago State University. Based on the material and the quality of the performances here, young players are in good hands with a guy like him around. This is a very well played, occasionally excellent disc of straight-ahead jazz, with some funk mixed in.
1. Do I foresee myself listening to this record again? Maybe.
2. Should you buy this record? Yes.
Link to purchase, if you’re so inclined…