What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Mike LeDonne – The Heavy Hitters (Cellar Live)
It’s been a minute since I’ve heard a record that tried to capture the classic Blue Note formula of a two or three horn front line with a cookin’ rhythm section that actually succeeded. If anyone was going to lead that album in 2023, it’s pianist Mike LeDonne on the album The Heavy Hitters. It looks like a classic Blue Note record due to bold and chunky lettering on the cover. And it sounds like a classic Blue Note record due to the personnel. Eric Alexander and Vincent Herring are playing the saxes, Jeremy Pelt is playing the trumpet. Peter Washington is on bass, Kenny Washington is playing the drums, and on one track (“Chainsaw”) Rale Micic joins the fray on the guitar. “Silverdust” settles into a really nice groove, “Hub” sounds as if it’s pulled directly off of a Freddie Hubbard album, and the dedication to Cedar Walton, “Cedar Land,” is gorgeous as well.
Skip Grasso – Becoming (Pathways Jazz)
Guitarist Skip Grasso tells a fascinating story in the liner notes of his second album, Becoming. Playing a livestream event, one of the viewers offered to produce this album, putting Grasso in a studio, recording his original material with a cast of A-listers. So, guitarist Skip Grasso is paired with keyboardist Anthony Pocetti, bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Drummond. There is an ECM-era Pat Metheny Group vibe to the proceedings on Becoming, both in the writing, on songs like “Belew’s Knot” or “Harvie Livingston Seagull” and on the economical and pretty playing found throughout. This is a cool and unexpected album, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you on WDCB!
Something Blue – Personal Preference (Posi-Tone)
Posi-Tone Records has been putting together all-star units featuring like-minded groups of players for the past few years now, and Something Blue is back at it for round three. This time featuring the likes of Markus Howell and Willie Morris on saxophones, Altin Seneclar on trombone, Misha Tsiganov playing the piano, Boris Kozlov on the bass and Donald Edwards behind the drums, the group can spend some time sounding like classic New York quintets and sextets of the 50’s and 60’s, and yet also make sure to have some modern sounding moments as well. For the Blue Note and Prestige fans, “The Path” sounds like absolute heaven. But the Jazz fans that want some acoustic jazz that sounds like 2023 will be happy to hear songs like “Flyover Country” and “Niecee.” In other words, Personal Preference, regardless of your personal preference, has a lot to love.