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What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella

May 10th, 2021

Charles Lloyd – Tone Poem (Blue Note)

Charles Lloyd has had the same band together for a few years now, and Tone Poem clearly illustrates why that is a great idea. Lloyd (tenor saxophone, flute) is joined once again by his band The Marvels: Bill Frisell (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums). Tone Poem does not disappoint. The freewheeling approach taken here by this quintet is breathtaking. On Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem,” they sound like they’d be just as comfortable playing in a Nashville bar as they would at the Village Vanguard. On their arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood,” they take full advantage of the relaxed tempo, with Lloyd, Frisell and Leisz weaving between each other. It makes for a lovely way to spend 10 minutes. On “Dismal Swamp” Lloyd breaks out the flute on a song that instantly evokes the classic Charles Lloyd Quartet of the late 60’s, with its Hippie Jazz vibe, and it brought an instant smile to my face. The most fun track here might be their New Orleans-ified take on Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin’.” Look for that one on an upcoming edition of Notes from the Jazz Underground. And that’s part of what makes Tone Poem so much fun: I have no doubt that you’ll be hearing this one on a handful of shows across WDCB’s lineup.

Dan Wilson – Vessels of Wood and Earth (Brother Mister/Mack Avenue)

Guitarist Dan Wilson has released the debut album for Christian McBride’s Brother Mister imprint, and it’s an impressive opening shot. Joined by Christian Sands (piano), Marco Panascia (bass) and Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), this quartet grooves on Wilson’s originals, Motown classics from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and a really nice version of Pat Metheny’s “James.” These four can swing, play some funk and get esoteric with equal aplomb, and I’m excited to get to share this one with you!

Alexa Tarantino – Firefly (Posi-Tone)

Saxophonist and flautist Alexa Tarantino has been making some really nice albums in the past few years, and she’s back with a new effort, Firefly, on her longtime home, Posi-Tone Records. She’s paired with Behn Gillece (vibes) and what’s become kind of the house rhythm section for Posi-Tone, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Rudy Royston. Considering the amount of heat that these musicians can create separately, it’s interesting to note that Firefly is actually a bit heavy on the ballads. And that’s no complaint. Tarantino and company play beautifully throughout, on songs from Gillece, like “Mindful Moments,” or Wayne Shorter’s “Iris.” But have no fear, when these five decide to crank up the tempo, they come to swing. Alexa’s “Surge Capacity” and “Rootless Ruthlessness” are great examples of this, and are both immensely satisfying to the ear.


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