Just like the jazz of today finds itself in the unique position of actually competing with its own past in terms of record sales, Lenny White’s history of being at the drums for some pivotal moments in music history almost works against him here. He drummed on Miles Davis’s 1970 groundbreaking Bitches Brew. He’s backed Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and dozens of other giants in a 41 year career. His work with Return To Forever from ’73 to ’76 and again for their 2008 reunion defines Jazz/Rock Fusion as we know it.
As his first solo album in over a decade, Anomaly (a deviant from the norm) features stellar players like Return To Forever bassist Stanley Clarke, Weather Report bassist Victor Bailey, super-funky keyboard titan Bernard Wright amid a glittering array of talent. The chops exhibited here are sterling. The production is crisp. The material is energizing. So what’s wrong?
In trying to be all things to all people, Anomaly hits some potholes. A horrible cut like “Forever,” with its generic soul vocals, messes up the fantastic groove built up by the previous two tracks which totally rock. Ditto for the track ten. And that spoken-word bit at the end just doesn’t work.
Although there are some moments here worthy of such a legendary skinsman, much of the album only rises to a level of instrumental flash a la metal guitarists like Satriani or Malmsteen where form trumps content. Lenny White’s better than that. Or at least he should be.