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

August 29th, 2022

Hey everybody! This week, we're going to look back at three new releases from artists that will be at the Chicago Jazz Festival this weekend. While you're at Millennium Park, please drop by the WDCB tent and say hello! It's always great to see and talk with WDCB listeners, and I'm looking forward to an excellent weekend of music! See you there!

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.

Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force – Dear Love (Empress Legacy Records)

Of the three female Jazz vocalists who have exploded onto the scene within the last few years (Cecile McLorin Salvant and Veronica Swift being the other two that come to mind for me), Jazzmeia Horn has been the one who has seemingly followed her muse wherever it feels like taking her. She wears her influences, like Betty Carter, Chaka Khan and a little bit of Sade, too, right on her sleeve. She’s more than happy to turn in a top-notch performance of a standard or a pop hit, but she’s right at home writing her own songs as well. And now, she’s followed that muse straight into a big band where she wrote 10 of the 14 songs, and arranged 13 of them (the one shared arranging credit is for “Where We Are,” which she wrote). The standout track here is “Where is Freedom.” Every single time I have listened to that song, it has stopped me in my tracks. It’s one of my favorite new songs I’ve heard in at least a couple of years.

Ethan Philion – Meditations on Mingus (Sunnyside)

Chicago based bassist Ethan Philion has put together a phenomenal band to celebrate the music of Charles Mingus for his centennial. Aptly titled Meditations on Mingus, this is a heavy and impressive project. This lineup is top-notch and world class: Russ Johnson and Victor Garcia on trumpets, Rajiv Halim, Geof Bradfield and Max Bessesen on saxophones, Norman Palm and Brendan Whalen on trombone, Alexis Lombre on piano, and Dana Hall on drums. This group sounds phenomenal on some of Mingus’ more challenging music, like “Meditation for a Pair of Wire Cutters,” “Pithecanthropus Erectus,” and “Remember Rockefeller at Attica,” just to mention a few. A big tip of the cap to Philion for arranging the music and getting the musicians into one room to get this done, as that could not have been an easy task. Ethan will be bringing this band to the Chicago Jazz Festival, so you will most certainly be hearing much more of this one as we get closer to Labor Day weekend. Enjoy!

Jazz Thursdays