Coniglio, Whitfield’s New Album Will Find “Fast” Appeal Among Audiences

Courtesy: Summit Records

Wayne Coniglio and Scott Whitfield’s recently released album Faster Friends is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz records.  Released July 26, more than seven years after its “companion “ album, Fast Friends was released, it is notable in part because of its featured songs.  That content will be discussed shortly.  The album’s liner notes add their own appeal to its presentation and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Faster Friends another offering from Coniglio and Whitfield that is sure to generate fast appeal among audiences.

Faster Friends, the “companion/follow-up” to Wayne Coniglio and Scott Whitfield’s 2014 album, Fast Friends, is certain to appeal to audiences quickly.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The album is composed of 12 songs.  The majority of those songs (nine in all) are covers.  That leaves only three original compositions.  Now while the majority of the record’s songs are covers, their work is still enjoyable in its own right.  Case in point is the duo’s take of Neil Hefti’s ‘Girl Talk.’  The duo replaces the saxophone line used in the original with a trombone for its update here.  The thing is that even with that replacement, the trombone line is just as gentle and flowing as the original saxophone line.  Also gone from the original in this take is the string arrangement.  Even lacking that string arrangement, the song is still just as engaging and entertaining as the original composition, if not more so.

On another note, ‘The Determinator’ – one of the album’s few originals – make for its own enjoyment.  The three minute, 33 second composition opens with a piano line that lends itself to comparison to works from Vince Guaraldi.  That comparison is short-lived, as the piano (performed by Ken Kehner) quickly gives way to the song’s trombone line.  Kehner’s piano line serves as a subtle supporting part to the trombone line here, and adds so much to the song even in that subtlety.  Meanwhile Kevin Gianino’s equally subtle but still stable time keeping adds its own touch to the whole, making for even more appeal.  The whole is a nearly four-minute opus that stands as the best of the album’s originals.

Looking at everything noted, it goes without saying that the album’s musical arrangements offer audiences much to appreciate.  That is only a part of what makes the album appealing.  The album’s liner notes add their own appeal to its presentation.  That is because while brief, the liner notes add at least some background to the songs.  One of the most notable of the backgrounds is that of ‘The Determinator.’  Coniglio points out here that the song was inspired by Ray Charles’ saxophone player James Farnworth.  He writes of Farnworth that his ability to settle disputes among his fellow musicians with a simple thumps up or down.  That coolness of his personality against the energy of the alleged disputes is so well translated through this arrangement.  It is clear proof of the need for liner notes in any instrumental music presentation.

On a completely different note, the liner notes for Coniglio and Whitfield’s take of ‘Free and Easy’ are just as interesting.  The notes point out that the song, originally co-composed by Fred E. Alhert and Roy Turk, was the title song from actor Buster Keaton’s first-ever “talkie” by the same name.  That is indeed the case.  The movie debuted in 1930.  On the surface, this may seem unnecessary.  The reality though, is that it could serve as a starting point on someone’s journey into the realm of vintage cinema.  Not only that, but in knowing that it is a cover of a song reaching all the way back to 1930, it could lead to an appreciation for the original song and other classic compositions from that era.  So once again, audiences get in these notes, more proof of the importance of the album’s liner notes.

Keeping this in mind along with the importance of the album’s musical content, the two items together make the album this much more engaging and entertaining.  It still is only a portion of what makes the album stand out.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  The production is so important to address because of how light and easy most of these songs prove to be from one to the next.  There is some energy in each song, but not one is too energetic or busy.  Those responsible for the album’s production ensured that the noted energy remained stable in each composition.  They did that by ensuring each song’s instrumentation was expertly balanced.  Those efforts succeeded in each case, too.  Simply put, the production brings out the best in each song whether cover or original.  The result is that the album proves so enjoyable just as much for its general effect as for its content.

Faster Friends, the latest album from longtime friends Wayne Coniglio and Scott Whitfield, is a successful new offering from the duo.  That is proven in part through the album’s songs.  Yes, most of the record’s 12 total songs are covers, but there are also some originals.  The originals and covers alike are enjoyable in their own right.  The liner notes that are featured in the album add their own appeal.  That is because of the background that they offer on the songs.  The record’s production rounds out the album’s most important elements and brings everything together as it brings out the best in each song.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make this record a unique presentation that will find fast appeal among audiences.  Faster Friends is available now through Summit Records.  More information on this and other titles from Summit Records is available online at:

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