Saxophonist Dan White began his musical studies on piano before switching over to the saxophone at a young age. Raised in Williamsville, NY, he is currently a junior at Ohio State University studying music. Fran’s Place is his first full-length self-released recording. The seven tunes were all recorded on one day in August of 2009.
White is accompanied by a trio including Buffalo native Chris Ziemba on Fender Rhodes. Ziemba, who is quickly making musical waves with invites to such high profile gigs like Marian McPartland’s NPR Piano Jazz show and subbing for Paul Shaffer on The Late Show with David Letterman, is the standout on this recording. The recent Eastman grad absolutely wails throughout. His playing is so tight and focused you’d swear he was at least 30 years older. Empathetic to what goes on around him, as well as being fully imbued with the jazz tradition, Ziemba is the kind of keyboard player who will find lots and lots of work. With a deft and light touch, he obviously “gets-it” when it comes to knowing jazz is all about communication.
White and the band play through seven of his original compositions that are soul-influenced, but don’t think smooth jazz. While they employ groove, the band members are too imbued with jazz’s history and straight-ahead proclivities to not be open to a variety of tempo and dynamic possibilities in order to allow plenty of soloistic room for motivic development.
White’s playing is heard best on the quirkily tempoed “Aloed.” After a bit of an insecure start he throws caution to the wind and ends up with lines that rip with energy and are fueled by a questing spirit. Even though the solo ends like it started, there is enough fire and soulful-heart in what we hear in the middle to know White has great potential.
Bassist Cameron Kayne and drummer John Hubbell know how to stoke the flames and be supportive at the same time. They have an impeccable sense of timing and show remarkable restraint when lesser musicians would overplay and get in the way of the intricate harmonic lines being laid down.