*Flute-playing soul-jazz phenomenon Ragan Whiteside has releasesed a brand-new single titled “Off The Cuff” on the Randis Music label (scroll down to HEAR it). The flirty new groove, co-written by Whiteside with her husband, noted producer Dennis Johnson, and veteran producer/keyboardist Bob Baldwin, is from her yet-to-be-titled 2022 album. “Off The Cuff” is available on all digital download and streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes Store, Tidal, Deezer, YouTube, Pandora, and more.
“Off The Cuff” is set to add to Whiteside’s streak of six previous Billboard Top 10 singles, including “JJ’s Strut,” “Reminiscing,” “Jam It,” “Early Arrival,” “See You At The Get Down,” and the Billboard No. 1 “Corey’s Bop.” The instrumentalist, composer, and vocalist was also a finalist for the Smooth Jazz Network’s Artist of the Year, and for two consecutive years, she remained in the Top 5 in Billboard’s Top Smooth Jazz Songs Year-End chart issue – the only woman to rise into the year-end Top 5 in the male-dominated world of jazz. Whiteside has released five previous albums, including the 2020 five-track EP Five Up Top, 2017’s Treblemaker, 2014’s Quantum Drive, 2012’s Evolve, and 2007’s Class Axe.
The track earned its “Off the Cuff” title because of how quickly it came together. “Dennis had a track that he had written for someone else, and had shelved it for whatever reason,” says Whiteside. “The original version of it was not my style, but when I heard it, I thought, ‘this has a lot of potential, and I think that we can make it my style.’ I started playing a melody on top of it, and Dennis changed the groove to match my melody, and the song just kind of flew. It just seemed to write itself.”
While Whiteside has made her mark fusing inspired flute melodies and breathtaking solos with hip upbeat grooves, her rigorous musical training prepared her to play in the most prestigious symphony orchestras in the world. Originally from Mt. Vernon, New York, Whiteside got her first taste of music in elementary school, playing drums, piano, and violin before a desire to be in the marching band put the flute in her hand. While still in high school she was mentored by members of the National Association of Negro Musicians, participated and ultimately won the NAACP’s ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) competitions for young people, and go on to the Cleveland Conservatory of Music before transferring to the highly competitive HARID Conservatory in Florida.
After graduation, she attended a show at a local jazz club and had an epiphany: “I was sitting up front and I said, ‘Oh my God. This is what I want to do.’” Right then and there, she introduced herself to keyboardist and producer Bob Baldwin, who was a headliner at the show and asked him for advice. Baldwin became a mentor and ultimately introduced her to Dennis Johnson, who owned a recording studio. Johnson and Baldwin have since become Whiteside’s frequent songwriting collaborators.
Whiteside credits the inspiration and influence of such flute masters as Hubert Laws, the late Dave Valentin, and Jean-Pierre Rampal on her artistry. By blazing her trail in instrumental jazz, the Atlanta-based mother of two is bringing a new appreciation to the flute. In the fall of 2020, she added yet another highlight to her résumé when she began hosting her own Saturday morning radio show on Atlanta’s WCLK 91.9 FM.
With a fresh approach and boundless creativity, Ragan Whiteside continues to delight fans of soul-jazz instrumentals. Fans can expect more single releases through the end of the year, with a brand-new full-length project in 2022.