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New Releases Spotlight: Week of April 10, 2017

April 11th, 2017

This week in the Music Lounge, our music director Paul Abella reviews three new discs being played on WDCB!


Hey, Everyone!  Let’s take a look at new music from Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias, the big band of Ben Markley and vocalist Carmen Lundy!


I’ll start off with Eliane Elias’ latest, Dance of Time. Joined by an almost all Brazilian crew (the ringers are vibraphonist Mike Mainieri of Steps Ahead fame and trumpeter Randy Brecker), Elias merges Jazz and Brazilian sounds - both old and new - in some really delightful ways.  Sounding almost fusionesque at times, this band digs in, with Eliane showing off some of the best piano playing she’s done since her days on Blue Note.  And with a small band consisting of rhythm guitar, bass, drums and all that piano playing, she really is front and center throughout Dance of Time.  "Speak Low" gets an almost Take Six-ish treatment, and one of Elias’ originals, "An Up Dawn," has a really cool, breezy groove that I can’t get enough of.


Pianist Ben Markley has put together an album of Cedar Walton tunes called Clockwise.  With all of Cedar’s time spent as a sideman through the years, it’s easy to forget what a formidable composer he was.  And on Clockwise, the hits keep coming: "Black," "The Holy Land," "Bolivia," "Hindsight," "Clockwise"...  These are great tunes, one and all.  Markley’s arranging for big band is outstanding, and the cherry-on-top is trumpeter Terell Stafford who makes a few cameos, really giving some weight to these proceedings.  If you’re a fan of modern big bands, you’re going to love this. If you’re a fan of Cedar Walton, you’re going to love this.  I think you’re just going to love this!


And finally, vocalist Carmen Lundy has her first new album out in a while, titled Code Noir. If you want to talk about all-star sessions, check this out…  In addition to Carmen on vocals, she’s joined by Patrice Rushen on keys, Ben Williams on bass, Kendrick Scott on drums and Chicagoan Jeff Parker on guitar.   These five find an interesting space together – definitely contemporary, but with some obvious R&B flourishes.  My favorites include the brightly swinging "Afterglow," and "Second Sight," where Jeff Parker gets some room to roam a little bit.  It’s a cool album that takes some chances, and it’s great to see a vocalist pulling off an all-original program.


Next week I’ll have some more great music to check out.  Join me!  ‘Til then, keep your ears open!