What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Clark Sommers – Feast Ephemera (Irabbagast Records)
Clark Sommers certainly assembled an all-star crew for the ages on his latest project, Feast Ephemera. This twelve piece group is absolutely stacked to the gills with heavyweights: Nick Mazzarella, Geof Bradfield, Chris Madsen & John Wojciechwoski on woodwinds, Tito Carrillo and Russ Johnson playing trumpets, Joel Adams and Andy Baker playing the trombones, guitarist Scott Hesse, drummer Dana Hall, and that leaves Sommers to write and arrange the tunes and play the bass. The results are flawless. From its first track, “Ripple Effect,” to its last, “Anchor” this is, without a doubt, one of the better large ensemble albums I’ve heard in 2023. And don't miss Clark Sommer's Album Release Concerts for Feast Ephemera at the Green Mill Friday, November 3rd & Saturday, November 4th!
Ron Blake – Mistaken Identity (7ten33 Productions)
Saxophonist Ron Blake has a new album out called Mistaken Identity. Supported by a group featuring Chicago’s own Bobby Broom (guitar) and Kobie Watkins (drums), and bassists Nat Reeves or Reuben Rogers, Mistaken Identity is a journey. Duke Pearson’s “Is That So?” gets the album started with a cool groove from Broom, Reeves and Watkins, before settling in for the laid-back melody and strong solos from Blake and Broom. Bobby Broom’s “No Hype Blues” is certainly a lot of fun. “Grace Ann” is a lovely sax and bass feature, and their take on the Benny Golson standard “Stablemates” is an excellent way to spend seven minutes and change.
Joey Alexander – Continuance (Mack Avenue Records)
It’s amazing to think that Joey Alexander is a 20 year old man as of the release of his latest album, Continuance. No longer the little kid who was an excellent pianist that really made Monk tunes sound good, now he’s reflecting on the lessons learned from the masters and applying them to his own music. Joined on Continuance by Theo Croker playing the trumpet, Kris Funn on bass, and John Davis behind the drums, Alexander is writing and playing music clearly conceived in the here and now. The influence of Chris Potter, Donny McCaslin, Snarky Puppy or Vulfpeck is clearly there, but unlike those musicians, Alexander doesn’t overwhelm you with his chops. He uses his considerable technique to serve the song, so “Blue,” “Hear Me Now,” and “Zealousy” will sound exciting to many a jazz fan.