Funk Jazz / Fusion / Post Bop / Hard Bop • United States
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A versatile drummer, Lenny White is still best-known for being part of Chick Corea's Return To Forever in the 1970's. White was self-taught on drums and he largely started his career on top, playing regularly with Jackie McLean (1968) and recording "Bitches Brew" with Miles Davis in 1969. White was soon working with some of the who's who of jazz including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Gato Barbieri, Gil Evans, Stanley Clarke and Stan Getz among others. As a member of Return To Forever during 1973-76, White gained a strong reputation as one of the top fusion drummers, but he was always versatile enough to play in many settings. After the breakup of RTF, Lenny White headed several fusion projects but none of the recordings (for Nemperor and Elektra) have dated well at all, emphasizing commercial funk. However his work with the Echoes Of An Era and Griffith Park read more...
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Rhino 2015
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Wounded Bird Records 2017
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Imports 2015
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LENNY WHITE Discography

LENNY WHITE albums / top albums

LENNY WHITE Venusian Summer album cover 4.29 | 7 ratings
Venusian Summer
Fusion 1975
LENNY WHITE Big City album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Big City
Funk Jazz 1977
LENNY WHITE Streamline album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fusion 1978
LENNY WHITE The Adventures of Astral Pirates album cover 3.00 | 3 ratings
The Adventures of Astral Pirates
Fusion 1978
LENNY WHITE Best Of Friends album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Of Friends
Funk Jazz 1979
LENNY WHITE Twennynine With Lenny White album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Twennynine With Lenny White
Funk Jazz 1980
LENNY WHITE Just Like Dreamin' album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Just Like Dreamin'
Funk Jazz 1981
LENNY WHITE Attitude album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Funk Jazz 1983
LENNY WHITE Present Tense album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Present Tense
Funk Jazz 1995
LENNY WHITE Renderers of Spirit album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Renderers of Spirit
Funk Jazz 1996
LENNY WHITE Edge album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Funk Jazz 1998
LENNY WHITE The Love Has Never Gone: Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire (as Lenny White Project) album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
The Love Has Never Gone: Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire (as Lenny White Project)
Post Bop 2000
LENNY WHITE Hancock Island - The Music Of Herbie Hancock  (with Buster Williams, George Colligan, Steve Wilson) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hancock Island - The Music Of Herbie Hancock (with Buster Williams, George Colligan, Steve Wilson)
Hard Bop 2008
LENNY WHITE Anomaly album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fusion 2010

LENNY WHITE EPs & splits

LENNY WHITE live albums

LENNY WHITE Lenny White Live album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Lenny White Live
Fusion 2013

LENNY WHITE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

LENNY WHITE re-issues & compilations

LENNY WHITE The Lenny White Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Lenny White Collection
Fusion 2002

LENNY WHITE singles (0)

LENNY WHITE movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


LENNY WHITE Venusian Summer

Album · 1975 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
This album did nothing but just totally blow me away! Lenny White had already played for Miles Davis on his classic Bitches Brew, and then later on Return to Forever starting with Hymn of the Seventy Galaxy and ending with Romantic Warrior. Venusian Summer was obviously recorded while he was still with RTF, but here he doesn't have a regular band, he has varying guests appear on each cut, including Larry Young (who played with John McLaughlin on Devotion, as well as Love, Devotion, Surrender with McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, as well as tons albums under his own name), David Sancious, Ray Gomez, Doug Rauch (who played on Santana's Caravanserai and Welcome, as well as Love, Devotion, Surrender), Patrick Gleeson (Herbie Hancock's Crossings and Sextant, Julian Priester's Love Love), Peter Robinson (Quatermass, Sun Treader, Brand X), Al DiMeola (RTF), Larry Coryell and others.

The first two songs, "Chicken Fried Steak" and "Away Goes Trouble Down the Drain" (the latter an obvious reference to Roto Rooter, a major plumbing service here in America for you non-American readers, that's been their slogan for as long as I can remember) are just simply amazing funky songs, but I really love how Lenny White diverts from the funk template and gets more experimental. The title track, for example, is a two part piece that starts off rather spacy and eerie, but the second part gets more into fusion territory, a bit like Mahavishnu Orchestra or Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy-era RTF. "Prelude to the Rainbow Delta" is another short spacy ambient piece that leads to "Mating Drive". Here it still starts spacy and calm, with some faint eerie Mellotron choirs, but then the music really goes into such overdrive it even makes Mahavishnu Orchestra look like slouches (which is something you'd never say especially with the original lineup). "Prince of the Sea" is a bit more calm, but not in the spacy ambient territory. Here you get plenty of dueling guitar from Al DiMeola and Larry Coryell.

I almost forgot to mention the cover. This reminds me of how an H.R. Giger painting would look like if there was color and all the nightmare, alien and death imagery removed (no skulls, skeletons, or creatures from the movie Alien or looks like it should belong said movie franchise). It's because the lady's face reminded me of a Giger paint.

Anyways, Venusian Summer is nothing short of amazing! Many fusion albums seem to stick to one thing throughout and can get a bit monotonous, but here Lenny White really spices it up by exploring different ideas throughout the album, from funk, to full-on Mahavishnu Orchestra-like guitar-driven fusion to spacy ambient parts. I really can't find much fault in this album. It's not mentioned the same way as say, the first two or three Mahavishnu Orchestra album (with the original lineup) or Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior, but this album really deserves to be in your collection!

LENNY WHITE The Love Has Never Gone: Tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire (as Lenny White Project)

Album · 2000 · Post Bop
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I didn’t know what to expect when I saw that Lenny White had recorded a CD of Earth Wind and Fire tunes. Certainly the complex jazzy pop of EW&F could lend itself to all manner of exotic arrangements and tone colors, but White and his crew decided not to go that direction and instead used the EW&F melodies as simple lead tunes for some modern post bop jamming ala a live club type scenario. In fact, on many of these tunes its hard to tell they are playing EW&F at all, they could just as well be jamming out on any tune from the fake book. The two ballads, “After the Love is Gone” and “Spirit”, as well as “Fantasy” are probably the ones that stay recognizable from start to finish, but that’s not to say that freeing things up on the other tunes is a bad thing at all. Although my hopes and expectations had leaned towards wanting to hear some creative arrangements, going the simple route and treating this like a bar gig may have been the best way to avoid excessive pretensions.

All that nitpicking aside, the playing on here is great. For being an early 21st century post bop record, this one has a lot of life and energy, there is no pastel-by-the-numbers clichés. On every track the band digs in hard and reaches for their best, pushing each other along. Lenny is not the most subtle drummer in the world, but he still has plenty of drive and is apt to reach into his old rockin/fusion thunder approach when the band gets worked up. Lots of great talent on here, but possibly the star of the show is guitarist Bireli Lagrene, an interesting choice for this project as he is usually known for his Django tributes.


Album · 1977 · Funk Jazz
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Sean Trane
After the stunning but slightly-derivative Venusian Summer debut album, Lenny comes back with a second effort in the summer of 76, but Big City won’t be released until the following year, and will get a much more urban artwork. With an equally impressive guest list (Herbie, Hammer, Goodman, Auger, Vitous, Schon, Gleeson, Maupin and more, one could have hoped for an equally successful album, but alas no such luck, as BC is definitely more of a later-70’s product than an earlier70’s album. Of course, you’ll still find Lenny both on drums, but also often on keyboards as well.

Opening on the fairly interesting funky title track, where the Power Tower horns and Brian’s Expressed Oblivion shared the spotlight, the album sinks rather low with the syrupy Sweet Dreamer crooning ballad, where only Herbie saves the day with his solo separate the dull and boring Tillery-sung verses. Two short “interludes” follow, the first being a funky piece, while the second (Nocturne) is a sleep-inducing orchestral piece, but both serve as an intro to the ultra-funky instrumental Rapid Transit (slightly reminiscent of Mahavishnu), where Gleeson’s weird electronic wizardry on the ARP underline Herbie’s rapid-fire Rhodes, before another interlude (Ritmo Loco) sees Lenny go at it alone, but only half-successfully.

The flipside opens on the slow-starting Dreams Come, but Gomez and Schon’s “lectric guits” fire it up nicely. The almost 10-mins ambitious 3-part suite Enchanted Pool opens in Maidens with Goodman’s romantic violin and Hammer’s piano, before segueing into the much better Bathe and then sliding into the excellent Ritual finale (despite a lengthy fade-out), thus making the piece the album’s highlight, worthy of his debut album. The closing live-recorded (and dedicated to Miles) Until We Meet Again sees Auger’s Hammond meet Schon’s blistering guitar doubled on the right by Gomez’s for an excellent extravaganza.

While BC has certainly some excellent moments, it certainly doesn’t match VS’ but it easily surpasses what he’ll do next, either in solo or with RTF. But the highlights on the present make BC an album that’s definitely still worth an attentive ear.

LENNY WHITE The Adventures of Astral Pirates

Album · 1978 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
A surprising third/fourth solo album from the RTF drummer, not least because it is very comics-related, with its gatefold star-ship Kaluta-drawn artwork and the Don Mizell (see Don Byrd and soul-jazz connection) Star Wars-like sci-fi concept explained inside the album. It is a little fastidious to dissert of the general storyline, especially that the album is mainly instrumental (only Remembering is sung), and to be frank, it’s very secondary to the music on the album, itself book-ended by the Astral Pirate Themes. Unlike in his previous albums, there is no major guest star or collabs (at least non I’m aware of), if you’ll except for Patrick Gleeson synth programming. Line-up-wise, we’re dealing with a constant windless quartet or quintet throughout the album, so the album is definitely in the later-70’s fusion realm than in the earlier 70’s JR domain.

Generally speaking the music is strongly later-70’s JR/F-oriented with strong rock and funk roots (it is co-produced by Al Kooper), although there are the odd moments where they get a tad pompous and veer semi-classical. While the music seems collectively-penned by the musicians, apparently Mizell would’ve also contributed (my guess is the lyrics of the lone sung-track) as well. Musically, we’re very much more in the rock-derived JR/F (ala early Journey) than we are in the jazz-derived fusion, partly due to the riffy guitars that abound throughout the album. Difficult to pinpoint a single track as some kind of climax or highlight, because the album’s content is fairly homogenised, and only the sung track (inferior to the rest of the album IMHO) sticks out from the mass, even if the three title themes pieces are a little special, especially the tremendous closing theme, very reminiscent of Journey’s debut album. A good album, but certainly not worth writing home about in emergency.

LENNY WHITE Venusian Summer

Album · 1975 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
While still in RTF, Lenny White started recording his own (very ambitious) solo album, the present in the summer of 75, with an impressive cast of musician buddies, including stars like Coryell, DiMeola, and Larry Young but others just as impressive like Gleeson (ex-Mwandishi), Sancious, or Doug Rauch (ex-Santana) and many more lesser-known (to moi, anyway). Actually, while Lenny shows himself a surprisingly pleasant songwriter, VS is also the works of two of the more important participants in the project: the Gleeson-Sancious duo on synthesizers (with Lenny), and Doug Rauch on Bass (two composition) and probably responsible for much of the Santana influence on the album. Graced with an esoterico-fantasy artwork, the album has much to please fans of progressive or complex music of the delightful decade.

Opening on the Rauch-penned ultra-funky Chicken-fried Steak that could easily find its place on Herbie’s Head Hunters album, VS continues with the energetic Down The Drain, which nears the 200 MPH cruising speed. Both (shorter) tracks tend to favour an ultra-complex rhythmic plot, thus maybe giving a wrong impression of the album as a whole. Up next is the 10-mins title track changes the general mood so much, that you my just check if this is not a manufacturing flaw, mixing two different albums. Indeed if the previous speedy pieces were one thing, the VS suite is almost its opposite, with a lengthy first spacey synth-filled intro movement with Gleeson, Sancious, Harrel, Robinson and White adding layers upon layers of calm sounds. The second movement gradually builds up and has a strong Caravanserai (Santana) feel (slightly funkier, though), which is probably the utmost reference for yours truly. Clearly Lenny had been listening to that album or the Alice-Carlos Illuminations album.

The flipside opens on the introductory Rainbow Delta, which returns to spacey synth layers, where Gleeson is alone to counter White’s percussions. Out of these soft and calm layers rise an energetic Mating Drive, where the Rauch-Santana vein is again explored withgreat success and lightning speed execution, especially knowing that Larry Young has a certain Gregg Rollie feel on the organ, before digressing in a percussion-filled fade-out. Impressive, but not unique. The closing Epic Prince Of The Sea is again much in the Caravanserai mould, but this time featuring the awesome Coryell-DiMeola blazing duet on guitar, where Al shows his Carlos-cloning ability, while Larry prefers as usual being more at the service of the music.

This LW debut album is a gorgeous piece of 70’s JR/F, one that had escaped me until nowadays (shame on me!!!), but definitely a pleasant unknown blast from the past. Like many artistes, it is White’s very early solo works that work best, not just because of their still fresh-inspirations (this is rather debatable, since this album is somewhat derivative of Caravanserai), but also due to the changes in the music industry that would shake the second half of the decade to lead to the awful 80’s. In the meantime, Venusian Summer is closer to an early 70’s album than a late 70’s work, and that makes already a load of difference… and not just to me!!

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