Exposé Online banner

Lenny White — Big City
(Wounded Bird WOU, 1977/2001, CD)

Lenny White — Venusian Summer
(Wounded Bird WOU 435, 1976/2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Big City Cover artVenusian Summer Cover art

Looking back thirty years later on the “golden age” of jazz-rock fusion, we tend to focus on the super tight unison lines and complex rhythmic structures of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever. We tend to forget (or at least I do) that fusion had a funky side, and these two solo releases from RTF’s ace drummer are a reminder of it. Both feature a similar outline: funky grooves (topped by hot playing from an all-star cast) set off with meditative moments that to today’s ears sound like New Age pseudo-classicism. The title suite of the first album could be from the lost soundtrack to Foxy Brown Goes to Venus. It starts with some spacey and (for the time) innovative electronics from Patrick Gleeson, then works its way into a mid-tempo funk beat with wah-wah guitar, trilling strings and a flute solo from Hubert Laws. Al DiMeola, David Sancious, Jimmy Smith, and others fill out White’s drums, keyboards, bass, and percussion parts. The second album starts out with its title cut, pealing out in high gear with the Tower of Power horns backed by White and Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. That energy is killed by a lame vocal ballad featuring Linda Tilery, which even Herbie Hancock’s great piano solo can’t redeem. Fortunately that’s the only real misstep. After a couple of short interludes, “Rapid Transit” is a real gem, energetic and fun. Neal Schon, Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, Miroslav Vitous, and others show up for their moments in the spotlight.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 24, 2001 releases, 1977 recordings, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Larry Coryell, Bennie Maupin, Lenny White, Michael Gibbs, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Al Di Meola, David Sancious, Herbie Hancock, Larry Young (Khalid Yasin Abdul Aziz), Miroslav Vitouš, Dr. Patrick Gleeson

Latest news

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Matthew Shipp, Spring Heel Jack & Others - Equilibrium, VisionFest, Good and Evil Sessions – Back in the late 80s, the style called acid jazz emerged, blending jazz with hip-hop elements, essentially bringing a modern groove to jazz, analogous to the incorporation of funk, soul, and rock into...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues