What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Michael O’Neill – Conversations with Birds (Jazzmo)
Saxophonist Michael O’Neill has been putting out excellent albums for a while. First with vocalist Kenny Washington (no relation to the drummer, by the way), then with vocalist Tony Lindsay, but rarely putting his instrumental prowess front and center. On Conversations with Birds, the featured guest artist (vibraphonist Joe Locke) is present on only two tracks, keeping O’Neill’s compositions and performances firmly in the spotlight. Joining Michael for most of the journey are Erik Jekabson on trumpet, Michael Bluestein on piano, Dan Feizsli on bass and Jason Lewis behind the drum kit. “Mr. Natural” is a nice, mid-tempo swinger, “Sky Ring Cha Cha” makes great use of some additional percussion and Joe Locke’s vibes, and the version here of “My Man’s Gone Now” might be the single most aggressive version of that Gershwin classic that I’ve ever heard. I don’t know what kinds of conversations O’Neill had with those birds, but they were clearly beneficial ones. This album is proof that he should be taking more of the spotlight for himself on a regular basis in the future.
Senri Oe – Class of ’88 (Sony Masterworks)
If you’ve never, or rarely, heard Senri Oe’s name before, don’t fret. Senri was a massive pop star in Japan in the 80’s and 90’s, but, at some point a few years back, he decided that it was time to give up the pop life and return to his first love: jazz piano. He dropped everything and enrolled at the New School in New York City and got to work turning himself into an impressive Jazz pianist. On his latest album, Class of ’88, he looks back at his big hits of 30-35 years ago, albeit this time, under a jazz lens. In order to complete the piano trio, Oe brought in Matt Clohesy to play bass, and Ross Pederson to play drums. So, let’s get something straight here: assuming that we’re not looking at wholesale reinventions of these songs, I need to go check out this guy’s pop tunes, because as Jazz compositions, these songs are JAMMIN’. “Apollo,” “Bamboo Bamboo,” and “Cosmopolitan” are all great songs.
Antonio Adolfo – Bossa ’65: Celebrating Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal (AAM)
Pianist and arranger Antonio Adolfo has been putting out top notch concept albums for at least the past decade. His dedications to Milton Nascimento, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Wayne Shorter have been excellent, and on Bossa ’65: Celebrating Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal, the streak continues. Interestingly enough, while the rhythms heard here are Brazilian through and through, this is first and foremost a Jazz album with Samba and Bossa Nova underpinnings. So, if you saw titles like “Samba do Carioca,” “O Barquinho,” or “Rio,” and were expecting lilting acoustic guitars and soft and sultry voices, you have got another thing coming indeed. The four piece horn section heard throughout the album is not here to take any prisoners. Trumpeter Jesse Badoc, alto saxophonist Danilo Sinna, tenor saxophonist Marcelo Martins and Trombonist Rafael Rocha play some potent melodies and some even more exciting solos. I look forward to playing this one for you in the mornings and throughout the day on DCB Jazz.