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American Backroads


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

May 1st, 2023

Lauren Henderson

Lauren Henderson – Conjuring (Brontosaurus Records)

I love the fact that Lauren Henderson just does not sound like any other singer out there in 2023. Both the timbre of her voice and the way she uses it are unique, and her choice in material rarely disappoints.  Henderson’s latest, Conjuring, captures her with a fine group, including Chicago ex-pat, Joel Ross (vibes), Gabe Schneider or Nick Tannura (guitar), Sean Mason or John Chin (piano), Eric Wheeler (bass) and Joe Dyson (drums). The group moves through a couple of standards: “That Old Black Magic,” and Jule Styne’s “It’s Magic” (in both English and Spanish), and a bunch of Henderson’s own compositions – “Spells” in particular, is fantastic.

Mike Melito

Mike Melito – To Swing is the Thing (Cellar Music)

Mike Melito is a hard swinging drummer with a new album out that sounds as if he were channeling all of the great Blue Note and Prestige albums we love. Surrounding himself with a top-notch crew, Grant Stewart (tenor sax), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Jeb Patton (piano) and Neal Miner (bass), this quintet carves through 10 songs with abandon. From the first moments of “You Said It,” it’s obvious what you’re in for, and that’s a grooving good time.

Bill Cunliffe

Bill Cunliffe – Border Widow’s Lament (Night Is Alive)

I always dig Bill Cunliffe Trio records when they come out. They swing nice and easy, He writes and arranges well, and he’s got empathetic sidemen that bring out the best in each other. On his latest, Border Widow’s Lament, he is joined by drummer Tim Horner and his longtime bassist of choice, Martin Wind. Wind’s “Slangelang” is a highlight on the album, making his presence doubly felt. Horner gets in on the writing, too, supplying us with the bossa nova-ish “Little Bird.”

Jammin Jazz
McAninch Arts Center