Tuesday, June 26, 2007

David Witham - Spinning the Circle (Cryptogramopnone, 2007)

David Witham is a pianist and keyboardist who has been associated with the likes of George Benson and Grover Washington among many other musicians. Considering those credits it’s a little surprising to see him on the cutting edge Cryptogramophone label. On this album he is leading a group which includes Scott Amendola on drums, Jay Anderson on bass, Nels Cline on guitar on a few tracks, Luis Conte on percussion, Jon Crosse on reeds and trumpet and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar. Leadoff track “The Neon” is a very cool tune with dexterous drumming from Amendola and slinky keyboards from Witham and a slowly building saxophone solo from Grosse. Nels Cline also sits in to contribute an excellent guitar interlude. “Who Knows” is a slow piano centered song which ebbs the momentum gained in the first song. “N.O. Rising” keeps the tempo pretty mild, but sneaks in a little accordion which is appropriate in a New Orleans tribute with a limpid soprano saxophone solo added. Some pedal steel guitar gives this track something of a Bill Frisell-Americana feel. "Momentum" is yet another slow building tune, a cinematic mix of accordion and drums with saxophone entering the fray a few minutes in, before building up a head of steam around the 4:30 mark. “The Circle” finally picks up the pace with a melodic upbeat tune fueled by Luis Conte’s percussion. The lengthy “Afrobeat” slowly builds to become the album’s highlight with bubbling percussion and saxophone and another excellent cameo from the always reliable Nels Cline. Witham lays down some very cool sounding Fender Rhodes electric piano, and the song takes on a very nice early-70’s Miles Davis groove. There is some good music to be found on this CD, but patience is required because much of the music is of the slowly developing, atmospheric variety.

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