Penguin Eggs, Eric Thom, Issue #36 Winter 2007
One can tend to forget how talented Ken Whiteley is when he seems so overexposed these days. He’s into his gospel thing, his blues thing, used to be into the jug band thing and does kids’ records, produces and you-name-it. All of which creates an impression of a rather eclectic individual who’s all over the map. But with One World Dance, that’s exactly his point. This 12-track record has pulled it all together, reminding you just how supremely talented Whiteley is. His unconventional voice works perfectly with many musical styles and this disc delivers big band and gutbucket blues, gospel, swing jazz and even a samba with steel drums.
Secret weapons across this entire disc is found in piano player Joe Sealey, who positively steams on the brilliant “Going To Be”, the disc’s most powerful track. Yet there are many: “Still Can’t Beleive You’re Gone” is a beautiful intimate paean to loss while “Death Letter Blues” conjures the devil and drowns him in the Delta. In an odd turn, Whiteley takes over a Cuban supper club with this slick arrangement – punctuated by Sealey’s piano, Mario del Monte’s congas and mark Mosca’s steel drums – that might make Boz Scaggs jealous. “That’s All Right” closes the disc on a blues/gospel note with tasteful ragtime guitar and three-part harmonies, leaving you wanting more. A very solid record from a man who wears the world on his sleeve.