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

January 3rd, 2023

Art Hirahara

Art Hirahara – Verdant Valley (Posi-Tone)

Pianist Art Hirahara has been recording with the same fantastic core of musicians for a few years now, and their comfort together is clearly evident on his latest disc, Verdant Valley. Teaming up with saxophonist Donny McCaslin, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Rudy Royston, this album gets into a lot of different moods, sometimes on the same track, like on “The Shadowist,” and the textures that are evoked during “Sphere of the Muses,” where Hirahara has the organ and piano going at the same time are fascinating.

Bill Frisell – Four (Blue Note)

Guitarist Bill Frisell has been all over the place, musically and stylistically these past few years. Recording with Charles Lloyd, his own themed albums for Savoy and Okeh and tours in different settings have kept him busy and in ever changing modes. On Four, not only does Frisell team up with an A-list team (Gregory Tardy on woodwinds, Gerald Clayton on piano, and Johnathan Blake on drums – yes, you read that right, there’s no bassist to be found here), but he also put together a beautiful, quiet album that feels perfect during chilly, dreary days that need some gorgeous sounds to counter the dreary landscape. Personally, I find “Lookout for Hope” and “Blues from Before” to be among the highlights, but I suspect that you’ll find some of your own, too.

Chris Glassman – Living the Dream (D Clef)

Trombonist Chris Glassman was not messing around when he put together the lineup for his album Living the Dream. Featuring Sharel Cassity on saxophones and flute, Bill Cunliffe on keyboards, Rodney Whitaker on bass, Ulysses Owns on drums and fellow trombonist Steve Davis as a guest star on four tracks, this disc is bound to sound good. This band sounds at their best when they’re swinging hard, and luckily we get a lot of examples of that on Living the Dream. The disc is bookended by a pair of cookers, “Animosity” to get the proceedings moving, and “Pencils Down” to take us out. In the middle, we are graced with great writing and arranging from Glassman, Cunliffe and Cassity. There’s a lot to like here, and I look forward to playing it for you!

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