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by Hans-Bernd Hülsman, smooth-jazz.de

Ragan Whiteside is best known to the smooth jazz community by her albums Class Axe (2007) and Evolve (2012). Now she takes off with her new album Quantum Drive (2014) in warp speed.

The album features on selected tracks Bob Baldwin, Althea Rene, Bo Valentine, Patrice Rushen, Dennis Johnson and Frank McComb. This is the first album she made after her move from New York to Georgia. Releasing albums on her own label gives Ragan the artistic freedom to express herself in her music. Nevertheless it’s the right music people can enjoy. 

On the Latin tinged Valentin Dream Ragan takes the lead on flute in full flow. Seamlessly integrated follows an extensive solo of master of all keys Bob Baldwin. Patrice Rushen recorded in 1982 Straight From The Heart with the oft-sampled Remind Me. Ragan interprets the song as flutist and vocalist featuring Patrice Rushen in a keyboard solo. Of course, everything sounds better.

Wonderfully fluent Indrani presents the musical symbiosis of flute and piano. On Smokey Room Ragan plays in a magic duet with keyboardist Frank McComb. Baldwin and Johnson share the performance on additional keys. Work It Out is a powerful song that showcases the singer Ragan and also includes a rap passage of Bo Valentine.

Soul Biscuit takes a look back into the past of the Motown sound. Like The First Time is a romantic ballad, reminiscent of those enchanting moments of the first date. Wing and Prayer is a peculiarity, since Ragan Whiteside and Althea René play together in a flute duet. Both are similar in the way of playing and the melody is just made for them. If softness has a name, it’s Gentle Touch. Insightful and stirring. The climax of the album is definitely to find at the end with Quantum Drive. An up-tempo tour de force of Ragan on flute and Bob on keys.

Ragan Whiteside creates with Quantum Drive an enchanting and vibrant album, which can defy any competition with other flutists of smooth jazz. Respect for such a development.

  Jul 04, 2014