David Whitman’s Ode To Joe out now!

September 15, 2023  /  News

Best Jazz Instrumental Album winner David Whitman enlists Geoffrey Keezer, Bob Sheppard, Bruce Forman and more in a nod to Dave Brubeck drummer Joe Morello.

Recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, Whitman’s homage to his mentor Morello,
Ode To Joe, comes out on September 15, 2023. 

Ode to Joe, the fourth release from Southern California based drummer and percussionist David Whitman, harkens back to the golden era of Blue Note, Riverside, and Verve, when spontaneity, passion, and magic ruled the studio. Recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles over two days with a set of tunes by Whitman and GRAMMY nominated arranger Andrew Neesley, Ode To Joe is a hard swinging session featuring a stellar septet which includes saxophonist Bob Sheppard (Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard), guitarist Bruce Forman (Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson) and Grammy Award winning pianist Geoffrey Keezer (Art Blakey, Ray Brown). 

Whitman’s debut release as leader, Oh, Clara!, won the Independent Music Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album at the Lincoln Center in 2018. His second album, Soul Flow, won four Global Music Awards for production, jazz, composition and album, as well as three Independent Music Awards. In 2022 he released his third album as leader, Oh, Hugo! Ode To Joe is dedicated to Whitman’s former teacher, drummer Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck Quartet). 

On Ode to Joe, Whitman takes an approach that channeled the technical refinements of touch and sound taught to him by Morello, who was blind but could hear the most subtle adjustments of the hand come through the drum. The arrangements by Neesley are harmonically and melodically extraordinary with Whitman calling them, “hard swinging foot stompers that course through your veins or make you want to get up and shout.”  

The album opens with “Time Out,” featuring tight horn arrangements in the melody and giving way to a rousing set of solos from Forman, Sheppard and Keezer, with Whitman powering the engine and revealing his other mentor, drummer Dave King. “Bop This” is a chance to hear jazz masters like Keezer and Forman cut loose on a rhythm changes form before a muscular drum solo by the leader. 

Home” is a soulful New Orleans revival that breaks down to a grooving trombone and drums duet after the head featuring dynamic interplay between Dragon and Whitman. Neesley’s trumpet falls in after with another stellar solo from Keezer rounding things out. 

The title track, “Ode to Joe,’’ is actually a nod from Neesley to the great saxophonist Joe Henderson wherein the harmony of “Inner Urge” undergoes a transition from major to minor and minor to major with much of the rhythm, form, and structure being similar, melodic elements similar but inverted, and so on. Sheppard handles himself with control and finesse that would give Henderson himself a run for his money. “Nees Plees” is another homage to a different jazz great and Charlie Parker contemporary, Benny Golson, but with some surprising twists and turns. It showcases the exceptional smooth sailing style of Dragon and phenomenal playing by Keezer and Whitman in tandem. “With Love,” another by Whitman, is the only instance of brushes on the recording and features Bob Sheppard and Geoffrey Keezer, as well as co-producer Chris Montgomery on guitar.  

Ode to Joe is out September 15, 2023. It features outstanding play between Keezer and Whitman, sophisticated charts, plus unique and mature styles from every member of the ensemble, all of whom are jazz masters that, collectively, have performed with most everyone in the music industry and shaped a generation of younger players. Both Morello and Henderson would be pleased.