Paul Whitley is a jazz musician with his roots in gospel. He plays drums, piano and guitar and I guess that range of talents is the idea behind the album’s title. ‘Versatility’ shows exactly what he can offer. On it he plays guitar (chiefly the rhythm parts), keyboards (a feel of Joe McBride about his work here) and he takes some of the vocals… and he’s also written most of the 15 cuts and produced the whole affair.
The sound of the album is chiefly the sound of smooth jazz. All the tunes are instantly accessible and they cover a range of emotions and feelings. The album’s title cut is a classic smooth jazz work out; ‘Groovin’ Time’ has that special soul undertow that makes this kind of smooth jazz so attractive; ‘Let’s Ride’ is spacier and comes complete with retro vocoder effects; while ‘Midnight Breeze’ will recall the best of Kenny G. The album also boats a number of decent vocals. The biggest is ‘You’re So Good’ … a real swinging affair with Trina Houston at the mic. ‘You’re The One’ (with Blanche Johnson on lead) is a great quiet storm moment while ‘Monte Carlo’ with Nicci Canada is the album’s nod to Latin rhythms.
So, yes – plenty of variety … and even more towards the end when Paul goes back to his gospel roots with a pair of “worship” instrumentals and a spoken ‘Thank You’ which is self-explanatory. The album is rounded off with the most complex tack – ‘Material Things’. This has thoughtful lyrics, some fiery guitar from Reggie Graves and another fine vocal from Blanche Johnson. You can find out more about ‘Versatility’ and its versatile creator @ www.paulwhitley.com