Anyhow, the debut album from Leland Whitty, is an instance of understated and effortless artistry. The rising Canadian jazz musician is a member of the popular group BADBADNOTGOOD and has collaborated with artists like Kendrick Lamar, MF DOOM, Earl Sweatshirt, Kaytranada and more. Yet this project showcases the versatility of Leland Whitty as he explores new territory, creating a sound all his own that lends itself to many different moods.
Anyhow is a concise, fully formed statement of purpose. Over the course of just seven tracks, Whitty shows the breadth of his musical knowledge while simultaneously revealing his skills as a talented producer and composer. This is the sound of a talented musician who both breaks and bends the rules of his genre. It’s a lush, breezy listen, a fully realized record created with care and precision, and the sort you can just put on and let wash over you.
Standout tracks include album opener “Svalbard,” a meditative track featuring a solemn saxophone melody intertwining with some gentle acoustic guitar work, weaving a delicate intro before diving into cosmic folk territory and closing down just as abruptly; and “Glass Moon,” a crisp and clear number with clean bass and drums interplaying with subtle wind instrument and saxophone work. But the highlight of the album for me is “In Circles,” which starts out with beautiful string and saxophone solos that build into an intense rhythm which crescendos several times before ending on a grand note with cymbals crashing as everything fades away.
Impressively meditative and light, Leland Whitty’s Anyhow stands out for not being a conventional jazz fusion album. Its focus is on developing a reflective and soulful quality, relying on rhythmic interplay to do the heavy lifting for it. Anyhow is an album sure to appeal to fans who sit at opposite poles in their appreciation for jazz fusion, from aficionados looking for chord changes and inscrutable instrumentation (Whitty can certainly deliver there) to those who listen for moments where you can hear every note as cleanly as a single tone on an acoustic jazz guitar.