Amanda Whiting follows her wonderful debut, After Dark, and now delivers a sophomore set, entitled Lost In Abstraction. While that title refers to the existential ennui that we all experienced, and are likely still experiencing, when the world went into pandemic lock / shut down, the music contained is focused, super sharp. If Amanda`s previous outing seemed centred on her own virtuosity, a showcase for her sublime skill on the harp, then the new one feels much more of a group effort, concerned with highlighting a collective dynamic – the incredible interaction between the 5 fantastic musicians involved. Don’t get me wrong, Amanda`s still here, leading the way, amazing with precisely picked and plucked patterns – which sound like someone playing classical guitar and piano, both at the same time, at once – its just that the other stars also get their chance to shine. Each soaring and chasing the other. Passing solos around like an Olympic relay baton. On the bossa nova nuanced Temptation, while Amanda`s strings go zing, it`s Chip Wickham`s woodwind that gets to wistfully weave its winding song. Jon Reynolds, on drums, and percussionist, Baldo Verdu, are the powerhouse driving Too Much`s pace-y latin groove. While the piece has everyone racing, it`s their syncopation that really shifts the tune along. Discarded is a wash of whispers and promises. Venus Fly Trap is slow bolero, that sort of reminds me of David Axelrod. It must be the cool crashing cymbals. Suspended is a head-nodding funk tour de force. Aidan Thorne`s contrabass is the heart that bumps, pumps, beneath, bringing energy to it all.
The overall sound is supremely sophisticated. Using my own personal geography for points of reference, and the imagery invoked, its the intimate soundtrack to a Kagurazaka jazz kissa – caressing your ears as the bartender carefully, expertly, carves a big block of ice, so that it exactly fits your whiskey glass. Or it`s cocktails on the 52nd floor of a hotel in Shinjuku. Clandestine, dangerous liaisons, flirtations between cinematic spies, dressed to kill. A Tokyo tryst where trouble is only seconds away. In its swing, it`s the romance of a spur of the moment shinkansen ride, heading for who knows where, lovers on the run late at night. Reducing the city, its bustle, and the world outside, to blurred, beautiful, distant, pinpoints of light.
Amanda Whiting`s Lost In Abstraction is released this Friday, May 27th, on Jazzman Records.