What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Markus Rutz – Storybook (JMARQ Records)
Chicago trumpeter Markus Rutz has a new album that he’s just released on JMARQ Records called Storybook. Boasting a band with saxophonist Sharel Cassity, pianist Adrian Ruiz, guitarist Kyle Asche (on three tracks), drummer Kyle Swan and bassists Kurt Schweitz and Samuel Peters, each of whom appears on about half the record. Storybook is largely written by Rutz, and there are some curious things to note about this album, including the intimate, drumless nature of much of the record. This sounds like friends jamming (albeit, at a very high level) in a thin-walled apartment, as opposed to a full throated, hard driving session (“Buffalo” might be the one exception here). And that’s cool. How much intimate, swinging, hushed jazz are we really hearing in 2023? For that alone, Storybook would stand out. Add in a collection of well-composed songs by Rutz with fantastic solos from a stellar crew, and you’ve got a special album on your hands. “The Everyday Escapades of M&M,” “Third Coasting” and “Short Story” are favorites of mine, and you’ll find some favorites of your own, too.
Ben Wolfe – Unjust (Resident Arts)
Bassist Ben Wolfe put together a fantastic crew to play across the 12 tracks that make up his newest album, Unjust. Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Nicole Glover, Immanuel Wilkins (saxophone), Addison Frei, Orrin Evans (piano), Aaron Kimmel (drums) and Chicagoan Joel Ross (vibes) show up in different combinations throughout the disc, giving each track its own flavor. “Hats Off to Rebay” sounds like some of my favorite Bobby Hutcherson moments on Blue Note. “The Corridor” sounds like the theme music for the quiet part of the jewel heist from some classic piece of film noir. “Lullaby in D” is quite pretty, and on “Sideways,” you can hear how much fun Payton and Ross were having together at this session. All in all, Unjust is a fantastic record, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Diego Rivera – Love and Peace (Posi-Tone)
Put four Posi-Tone Records all-stars in a room with a bunch of original compositions, a few contemplative Jazz classics and let ‘em rip. If that sounds like a recipe for success, you’re right, it most certainly is on Love & Peace, the latest from saxophonist Diego Rivera. He’s joined by Art Hirahara on the piano, Boris Kozlov on bass and Rudy Royston on the drums. Of the 11 songs, 8 are written by Rivera, with John Coltrane’s “Alabama” and Horace Silver’s “Peace” being the notable arrangements of Jazz classics. Diego Rivera’s songs are largely upbeat, like on the churchy “Soul Purpose,” the Latin-tinged “Ganas,” or the very obvious nod to Branford Marsalis, “Anticipation.”