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

May 24th, 2021

Shawn Maxwell – Expectation & Experience (Jazzline)

One of the in vogue trends of 2021, thus far, has been albums created around the ideas, thoughts and reactions to the events of 2020. Chicago saxophonist Shawn Maxwell has crafted a most ambitious album on that theme, Expectation & Experience. He pulled together 30 musicians over the course of 17 songs that each covered a various aspect of quite an eventful year. “Empty Shelf,” featuring Collin Clauson on keyboards and Tim Seisser on bass is a melancholy meditation on our shopping trips in early and mid-2020. “Quiet House” features some gorgeous string arranging from Zvonimir Tot, and “The New Abnormal” is Maxwell’s rumination on streaming concerts, baseball games with pictures of fans in the stands and the newfound lack of personal contact. All in all, it’s a fascinating listen.


Roni Ben-Hur – Stories (Dot Time)

Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur has assembled an all-star band for his latest album, Stories, on Dot Time records. Featuring Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, George Cables on piano, Harvie S on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, this is a swinging program. “Something for Kenny” is a forgotten classic from the pen of pianist Elmo Hope, and Ben-Hur, Jensen and Cables all turn in fine solos. The tempo comes down significantly to tackle the work of another fantastic Jazz pianist – John Hicks – on “After the Morning,” and the playing here is absolutely beautiful. Roni also contributes a couple of nice songs the ballad “But I Had to Say Goodbye,” and a pretty cool waltz, “Ma’of.” There’s lots to like on Stories, and I think you’ll be hearing a lot of it on WDCB.


Ray Gallon – Make Your Move (Cellar Live)

Pianist Ray Gallon may seem like a newcomer; after all, Make Your Move is his debut CD as a leader. However, he’s put in time with a wide-ranging group of artists, from Lionel Hampton to George Adams. That’s an impressive resume, and on Make Your Move, it becomes clear why artists from all over the stylistic map have dug what he does. Gallon is joined by David Wong on bass and Kenny Washington on the drums, and the results swing as hard as you might think. There’s a lot of Monk and Erroll Garner in Gallon’s playing, and that, of course, is a wonderful thing. Songs like “Kitty Paws” or “That’s The Question” are quirky, with twists and turns, but still lay right in the pocket and make for a fantastic listen.