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JAZZ REVIEWS : Guitarist Mark Whitfield Disappoints

March 22, 1993|LEONARD FEATHER

Mark Whitfield, the widely praised 26-year-old guitarist, was a disappointment Thursday night at the Ambassador in Pasadena.

Part of the problem was the accompaniment. Whitfield--a graduate of Berklee College and a protege of George Benson--was backed by a loud drummer (Dowell Davis) and an under-miked bassist (Ronald Guerin).

Mostly playing his own compositions, Whitfield tended toward excesses of volume and technique at the expense of soul. The best of these were "Little Digi's Strut," with its pleasant loping groove, and "A Long Way From Home." Aside from John Coltrane's "Impressions," the only bow to the world of standards was a brief ballad medley of "In a Sentimental Mood" and "My Romance."

After intermission, the sound on Guerin's bass was improved, but Davis, playing his first night with the group, still didn't seem to understand the requirements for backing a guitarist.

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