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

August 2nd, 2021

Willie Jones III – Fallen Heroes (WJ3 Records)

Drummer Willie Jones III has been busy for a while now. Between showing up on a bunch of other folks’ records and running a record label, he’s also managed to get out a new album, Fallen Heroes. Joined by a fantastic cast including George Cables (piano), Justin Robinson (alto sax), Gerald Cannon (bass) and Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), this band shines on some swinging grooves. Some are well known (Jimmy Heath’s “C.T.A.”, Larry Willis’ “To Wisdom, The Prize”), and some less so (Jones’ “Jackin’ for Changes”), but everything is right in the pocket and feels good.


Will Bernard – Ancient Grains (Posi-Tone)

Guitarist Will Bernard goes back to basics on his latest, an organ trio set called Ancient Grains. Teaming up with organist Sam Yahel and drummer Donald Edwards, Ancient Grains is probably the most straight ahead album I can remember under Bernard’s leadership. Yahel’s got a unique touch and flavor to the way he approaches the organ, and Edwards keeps the proceedings swinging nicely. Save for Thelonious Monk’s “Boo Boo’s Birthday,” this is an all original collection with some twists and turns that have kept me tapping my foot every time I’ve listened. I think you’re going to like this one, too.


Dave McMurray – Grateful Deadication (Blue Note)

As WDCB’s resident Deadhead, I felt it necessary to give this one a shout out. Dave McMurray recently put out an album of all Grateful Dead compositions called Grateful Deadication. You’ll hear it this week on Notes from the Jazz Underground, and I think it might make its way into some of the other nighttime shows, as well. It pulls from almost all of the phases of the Grateful Dead’s 30 year run, from their magnum opus “Dark Star” to their biggest hit, “Touch of Grey.” I’m impressed that McMurray chose to take on a few of the Dead’s most challenging songs, like the odd-metered “Estimated Prophet” and the harmonically complex “Eyes of the World” among his picks.


Joshua Jern Jazz Orchestra – Lockdown (self-produced)

I am still fascinated by the fact that 2020-2021, a time when we were supposed to be socially distanced, has brought more big band albums into the universe than any other span of time that I can think of in my lifetime. Joshua Jern adds another to that pile with his brand new album Lockdown. A band stacked with Chicago all-stars like Russ Phillips and Luke Malewicz (trombones), Rob Parton and Art Davis (trumpets), Rob Clearfield (piano), Curt Bley (bass) and Greg Fundis (drums) there is no lack for power, groove or intensity throughout Lockdown. My personal favorite here is “Bread Crumbs,” but I’m sure you’ll find a favorite or two as well.