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Pharez Whitted



Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago,IL
April 6, 2008

Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted

Story and Photos by James Walker

Finally!!!!!!! Premier Chicago trumpet sideman Pharez Whitted had his long awaited opportunity to showcase his skill as a frontman last Sunday during the weekly CheckerJazz set sponsored by the Hyde Park Jazz Society at the Checkerboard Lounge on the City's southside.

Whitted has been seen around town "gigging" with the likes of guitarist Bobby Broom, saxophonist Ari Brown, trumpeter John Faddis and his Chicago Jazz Ensemble, to name just a few, but according to Pharez, this was his first South Side engagement fronting his own band. Being the humble person that exemplifies his character, he thanked the Jazz Society for inviting him to perform at this increasingly popular Jazz and Blues Club. Initially, he didn't appear to be completely comfortable in his new role, as the band huddled for long periods of time at the beginning of this set before launching into its comfort zone.

Pharez's bandmates included veteran Ron Perillo on keys, Dennis Carroll on bass, and newcomer Greg Artry, from Indianapolis, on drums. It's always a pleasure to see new talent performing in Chicago and young Artry need not be a stranger to the local jazz scene. This timekeeper is a sight to see behind the drum kit and established many fans with his superb performance during his CheckerJazz debut.

Pharez kicked off the set with a Miles Davis number entitled "Four." He produced some nice crisp sounds on the first extended solo that was full of energy. Artry wasted little time displaying power precision drumming that delighted those assembled in this fabled room. This was followed by Wayne Shorter's classic "Fe Fi Fo Fum," a bluesy slow tempo selection, that enabled bassist Carroll to emit deep tones from his upright that complemented Pharez's vibrant trumpet sounds. Keyboardist Perillo got involved with some low tone "scatting" as he played an extended solo. He appears to be deeply engaged with his inner self during this number. It's now obvious that Pharez, the frontman, will share the spotlight with his exceptional bandmates. He's giving them plenty of "space" to "stretch" out and express themselves.

During the next song, Pharez reached for and hit those high notes that probably could be heard outside this spacious room. He now appears to be very relaxed and at ease. Carroll and Artry engage in nice interplay as Carroll takes the lead with a nice mellow solo. Artry complements Carroll using all pieces of his drum kit, including the sides of the drums.

Jazz standard, "The Very Thought of You," was one of the last pieces played before intermission. In addition to beautiful solo by Whitted, Perillo again demonstrated nice soft strokes on the 88s. He distinguished himself throughout this first set with extended solos. Occasionally though, it appeared as if he was the frontman with Whitted stepping into the background.

The second set, as promised, featured one of Chicago's finest Jazz vocalist, Tammy McCann. Tammy recently put on a spectacular performance here (see Jazzchicago.net's review of 1-13-08), and the crowd was buzzing as she made her way to the stage. During her six song set, Tammy was very complementary to the band, as she more than often deferred to the instrumentalists rather than taking complete control as one would expect from this world class vocalist.

The absolutely highlight was her splendid version of "Boy From Ipanema." This listener has heard her perform this song on several occasions and on this night, she "nailed" it. One must see her sing this song live to fully appreciate it's impact on the audience. It's a crowd pleaser and she dramatically takes the audience along with her as she describes that afternoon on the beach as the "boy from Ipanema" strolls by. She's very convincing belting out this standard.

"Mood Indigo" followed with only Carroll's bass accompanying her sultry vocals. This was perhaps Carroll's finest moment of the night as he softly stroked the bass on an extended solo when not just complementing Tammy. It was during her final song "I Just Found Out About Love and I Like It" that Tammy had to uncharacteristically stop the band at the beginning because it was being played in the wrong key. Being the professional that she is, she quipped "that's like putting on your pants backwards" as she preceded without missing a beat.

Pharez concluded this fine set with a number that allowed him to blow fast, bright flourishes with a bold attack on each note. He stunned the crowd with his blazing chops on this final tune. At last, Pharez as a frontman had an opportunity to perform before an appreciative South Side audience. He may be unheralded, but knowledgeable jazz enthusiasts have long known of his background and talent as a trumpeter and during his "South Side debut" as a frontman, he displayed control and skill. With that said though, this writer would have preferred more bold sounds from this virtuoso rather than extended solos from the sidemen. Please don't misunderstand this writer's point, we just needed to see more of him out front doing what he does best blowing plenty of deep improvisation and outbursts of creative sound from his muscular-sounding trumpet.

Bassist Frank Russell will perform at the Checkerboard this Sunday, April 13, 2008. Scheduled to appear with Frank are ace bandmates smooth Buddy Fambro on guitar, hard driving Kahari Parker on drums, young phenom keyboardist Greg Spero and the incomprabable Corey Wilkes on the trumpet. This promises to be an exceptional set. For detailed information about upcoming Checker Jazz sets, log on their website at www.checkerjazz.org.

Ron Perillo
Ron Perillo
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted Group
Pharez Whitted Group
Greg Artry
Greg Artry
Tammy McCann & Pharez Whitted
Tammy McCann & Pharez Whitted
Dennis Carroll
Dennis Carroll
Pharez Whitted Group
Pharez Whited Group
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Ron Perillo
Ron Perillo
Tammy McCann
Tammy McCann
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Greg Artry
Greg Artry
Dennis Carroll
Dennis Carroll
Greg Artry
Greg Artry
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Ron Perillo
Ron Perillo
Greg Artry
Greg Artry
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Dennis Carroll
Dennis Carroll
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted & Dennis Carroll
Pharez Whitted & Dennis Carroll
Tammy McCann
Tammy McCann
Ron Perillo
Ron Perillo
Pharez Whitted Group
Pharez Whitted Group
Judith Stein
Judith Stein
Hyde Park Jazz Society
Virginia Moore & Reginald T. McCants
Virginia Moore & Reginald T. McCants
Dennis Carroll
Dennis Carroll
Pharez Whitted Group
Pharez Whitted Group
Pharez Whitted Group
The Group huddles before the show
Pharez Whitted & james Walker
Pharez Whitted & James Walker, Jr.

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