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May 23rd, 2022

Mike Allemana - Vonology

Mike Allemana – Vonology (Ears & Eyes)

I wish Mike Allemana recorded more often. Sure, there was that great album, Lin’s Holiday, from a bunch of years back, and the live album with George Freeman and Bernard Purdie at the Green Mill. Which is exactly as fantastic as it sounds. And Vonology is proof that I’d love to hear even more music from Allemana’s guitar, and his pen, too. A tribute to his old boss and one time patriarch of the Chicago Jazz scene, Von Freeman, Vonology is a five-part suite that is beautifully composed, arranged and played by a jaw dropping assemblage of Chicago talent. I don’t know if Vonology is supposed to evoke a morning at church, but it does (to these ears anyway), with a call to order, a sermon, a communion, an alter call and a benediction. This is a fantastic document that honors a generation past, made by a generation present, with appearances by the next generation that will take Chicago Jazz in new directions yet to be seen. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Doug Webb - The Message

Doug Webb – The Message (Posi-Tone)

Doug Webb’s latest, The Message, is a throwback that I can get down with. It feels like an old tenor battle record, and the best of those are always a blast. Certainly no one’s going to quibble with the quintet that was put together for this one: Doug Webb and Bob Reynolds on the tenors, Greg Osby on alto, Brian Charette on the B-3, and Charles Ruggiero on drums. This is all straight-ahead fire, too. There are standards (“Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “I Was Doing Alright”) and originals from almost everyone on the session, and it’s grooving. If you’re looking forward to some fun music from creators of modern Jazz, you’ll do well to keep your ears open for this one.

Joe Alexander - Origin

Joey Alexander – Origin (Mack Avenue)

It’s hard to believe that Joey Alexander’s first album was 7 years ago now, but in those 7 years, the 12 year old phenom with chops and a thorough appreciation for Thelonious Monk has turned into a pianist with depth, taste and patience on 2022’s Origin. The band put together for this disc turns in a fantastic effort full of peaks and valleys, seemingly always having room to turn up the intensity and keep things interesting. Of course, that’s probably to be expected when your band includes Larry Grenadier (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums), Chris Potter (saxophones) and Gilad Heckselman (guitar). There’s a bit of a suite here with four movements dedicated to the four seasons, and the other six songs on this all original album are impressive as well. If you dug Joey Alexander before, you’ll no doubt appreciate this latest effort, and if you’re still on the fence, Origin might just be the album to convert you.

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