David Witham may be best known for his collaborations with George Benson over the last few decades but Spinning The Circle, the pianist’s latest opus, reveals that he is a solid composer and bandleader in his own right, an artist who draws from a diverse and miraculously refreshing palette. Album opener “The Neon” recalls vintage (circa 1975) space jazz, “Afrobeat” offers just what it promises, while “Momentum” takes listeners on an appropriately long and fascinating journey. Witham also pays tender tribute to jazz’s roots with a nod to the music’s first city, New Orleans, via “N.O. Rising,” as beautiful and tender––and, alternately, stubborn and resolute––as any homage to the town could be. But it’s the gentle “Who Knows” that may be the album’s best track and the one that highlights Witham’s special charms as a pianist best. Joined by an impressive cast of players––including Nels Cline, Luis Conte and the ever-fascinating Greg Leisz––Witham has delivered one of the great jazz records of the year.
By Jedd Beaudoin