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January 17th, 2022

Farnell Newton – Feel the Love (Posi-Tone)

Trumpeter Farnell Newton did some recording throughout 2018 and 2019 that finally made its way to CD in late 2021. With a core quartet that includes pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Rudy Royston, Newton gets down to business from the moment you press play on the album’s title track, “Feel the Love.” Sprinkled throughout the album are some killer guest shots from trombonist Michael Dease and alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw on “Pale,” and there’s a cool reinvention of John Scofield’s “I’ll Catch You,” sans guitar. This is a fun one that I look forward to playing for you on DCB Jazz!


Scott Burns, John Wojciechowski & Geof Bradfield – Tenor Time (Afar Music)

2021 saw the launch of the Chicago based record label, Afar Music, with the excellent album Altoizm, which featured the talents of Greg Ward, Rajiv Halim and Sharel Cassity, all on the alto saxophones. To kick off 2022, Afar is striking again, and this time with a bigger saxophone on Tenor Time. Saxophonists Scott Burns, John Wojciechowski and Geof Bradfield are joined by Richard D. Johnson (piano), Clark Sommers (bass) and Greg Artry (drums), and the music is just as fiery as you might expect from the very first notes of the opening tune, “Valkyrie.” Whatever flavor you’re looking for, they seem to have it covered on Tenor Time, from a beautiful ballad (“Some Other Sunday”) to a mid-tempo blues that screams “CHICAGO!!!” (“Altar Blues”), to some knotty and nimble uptempo romps (“Jazz Folk Song” and “Corea”). It’s rare that you see a contender for album of the year come out in January, but mark my words, I’ll be shocked if we’re not talking about this one at the end of 2022.


Randy Napoleon – Rust Belt Roots (OA2)

Guitarist Randy Napoleon shows off his prodigious chops and impeccable taste on his latest effort, Rust Belt Roots, by playing the music of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green and Kenny Burrell (and, well, Randy Napoleon, too). The show gets kicked off with a swinging version of the classic Wes Montgomery jam “S.O.S.” What strikes me is which songs Napoleon chose from each guitarist…the Montgomery choices lean toward the swingers, the Grant Green songs are steeped in gospel and the blues, and two of the three Kenny Burrell picks are ballads (the version here of “Listen to the Dawn” is fantastic). “The Presence of Fire,” from Napoleon’s own pen, sounds like it was co-written by Wes and Kenny, and it’s a treat.

 

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