What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Roy McGrath – Menjunje (JL Music)
Saxophonist Roy McGrath has put together a monster of a group and a recording for his latest CD, Menjunje. Joined by Constantine Alexander (trumpet), Jose Carrasquillo (cuatro), Eduardo Zayaz (piano), Kitt Lyles (bass), Efrain Martinez (drums) and the percussion team of Victor Junito Gonzalez and Javier Quintana-Ocasio, this is some of the hottest Latin Jazz I’ve heard in a while. The whole disc is excellent, but I keep coming back to “Guamani” and “Groove #4.”
Brad Mehldau – Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles (Nonesuch)
Brad Mehldau’s career has been peppered with absolutely top-notch renditions of Beatles songs, with his trio (“Blackbird”), with larger groups (“Dear Prudence”) and solo (“Martha My Dear”). So, when word came down that Brad’s latest, Your Mother Should Know, would be an album of solo piano renditions of Beatles songs, I don’t think anyone was shocked. But lots of people were excited. I’d been getting requests for the album during the all-request hour before the album was available at all. I am here to tell you, it was worth the wait. “Golden Slumbers,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” the shocking coupling of “I am the Walrus” with “Your Mother Should Know,” they all work beautifully.
Lakecia Benjamin – Phoenix (Whirlwind)
A few of us here at WDCB were eagerly awaiting Lakecia Benjamin’s follow-up to her excellent 2020 album Pursuance: The Coltranes. So, when Phoenix was announced, we were excited. And Phoenix delivered in a big way. Over the course of its 13 tracks, it actually feels like three albums, and at least one of those albums-within-an-album will get some well-deserved love during DCB Jazz. When Lakecia Benjamin and Co. get down to business with their acoustic, straight-ahead band, sparks fly in a massive way. The quartet that makes up the base band on Phoenix is together on “New Mornings,” and they come out of the box swingin’. On “Jubilation” Patrice Rushen lays down a piano solo for the ages, and “Mercy” features a lovely vocal from Dianne Reeves. It’s telling that Terri Lyne Carrington produced Phoenix. She pushes Benjamin to new heights throughout the album, and it makes for an exciting listen that you’ll be hearing on DCB Jazz and Notes from the Jazz Underground, too.