Last Updated on Monday, 08 February 2010 15:53 Written by Tom Krehbiel Saturday, 08 January 1994 14:56
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but youthful drummer Sebastian Whittaker obviously believes that emulation is the finest form of appreciation. One for Bu!! is Whittaker's heartfelt and skillful tribute to the late jazz master drummer and leader Art Blakey, not an attempt at simple simulation.
Whittaker is a Blakey disciple both in his energetic, aggressively swinging drumming style and in his leadership of the Creators. This seven piece band features carefully crafted arrangements that set up plenty of well-supported solo opportunities for its members. The emphasis is on melodic swing and personal expressiveness.
All this is in line with the tradition established by Blakey throughout his years of leadership of the Jazz Messengers group. But, in the best jazz tradition, the Creators has its own sound and its own feeling. It's far from a Jazz Messengers wannabe group.
Check out "Mopac at Midnight," written by the group's trombonist and music director James Lakey. It opens with an Ellingtonian theme statement and altoist Jesse Davis, Lakey, and pianist Jacky Terrasson tell their stories in classic modern idiom. Then Terrasson drops out to allow Whittaker and bassist David Craig to stroll a slap-shuffle two-beat behind trumpeter Barrie Lee Hall's neo-traditional plunger mute ruminations. Ultimately Hall "finds a new Baby" and Whittaker falls into New Orleans style parade drumming. The band joins in with avant-Dixie riffs supporting wilder Hall excursions before easing back into the relaxed theme.
Another unique treatment is the up-tempo trio version of "I Love You." While never straying too far from or snuggling up too close to Cole Porter's spare theme, Terrasson assembles sly references to various other pieces in his craggy solo. (You'll meet Laura, you'll Hear Music--some Played Twice, and you'll even Take the Coltrane.)
There's an eighth name on the liner notes of One For Bu!!. It's that of drummer G.T. Hogan who (like Blakey) worked with the likes of Randy Weston, Bud Powell, and Kenny Drew in the '60s. Hogan and Whittaker perform a drum conversation based on the tom-tom patterns commonly used with "Cherokee." The transgenerational jazz communication is a kick the first couple of times you hear it, after that you may find yourself wishing they'd made room for a couple of horn solos.