Mark Whitfield

Presented inhouse. Band: Whitfield, Victor Atkins, Roland Guerin, Donald Edwards. Reviewed Jan. 17, 1996. There isn't any question that Mark Whitfield is a fine young guitar technician who has already proven himself in many situations. But his first set at the Bakery, initially hampered by a murky sound balance, emerged as an imitation of past masters with little of the shape and storytelling qualities of the originals. Thus left pretty much on his own, Whitfield fell back upon sprays of bebop licks all over the guitar with little coherence or direction. We mostly heard echoes of George Benson in the rapid patterns and machine-gun chords -- and in "Harlem Nocturne," Whitfield used his thumb to produce octaves and a soft round tone in the manner of his idol, Wes Montgomery. But without Benson's rhythmic drive and without Montgomery's melodic inventiveness and logic, all of this technique produced a mighty thin stew.

Presented inhouse. Band: Whitfield, Victor Atkins, Roland Guerin, Donald Edwards. Reviewed Jan. 17, 1996. There isn’t any question that Mark Whitfield is a fine young guitar technician who has already proven himself in many situations. But his first set at the Bakery, initially hampered by a murky sound balance, emerged as an imitation of past masters with little of the shape and storytelling qualities of the originals. Thus left pretty much on his own, Whitfield fell back upon sprays of bebop licks all over the guitar with little coherence or direction. We mostly heard echoes of George Benson in the rapid patterns and machine-gun chords — and in “Harlem Nocturne,” Whitfield used his thumb to produce octaves and a soft round tone in the manner of his idol, Wes Montgomery. But without Benson’s rhythmic drive and without Montgomery’s melodic inventiveness and logic, all of this technique produced a mighty thin stew.

What Whitfield’s set could have used is some editing and more material; there weren’t enough good on-the-wing ideas to support only four tunes in 70 minutes. Either that or hope that a chemistry somehow ignites within this foursome.

Mark Whitfield

(Jazz Bakery; 177 seats; $ 17 top)

Production: On Whitfield's new Verve album, "7th Street Stroll"-- an engaging series of tone poems about his struggle to make it in New York -- he sounds a lot more assured and inventive, spurred on by two separate groups of expert veterans and spirited kids. He didn't have anywhere near that level of support Wednesday, with pianist Victor Atkins mainly repeating McCoy Tyner cliches, overly busy bass work from Roland Guerin and surprisingly awkward drumming from Donald Edwards.

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