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New Releases Spotlight: Week of February 6, 2017

February 7th, 2017

This week in the Music Lounge, our music director Paul Abella reviews three new discs!


Hey everyone, I’m back with three more new releases that WDCB is playing these days…


Guitarist Mark Whitfield has an excellent, new disc out with sons Mark, Jr. (drums) and Davis (keyboards) called Grace.  Add bassist Yasushi Nakamura to the quartet, and you get some glorious noise over the course of nine heart-pounding tracks.  "Afro-Samurai" is an excellent way to start the disc, alternating between aggressive jazz-funk and mellow, grooving swing.  "Double Trouble" is an awesome up-tempo swinger that is better for a morning pick me up than three cups of coffee could ever be, and "Fortress" comes off as an ode to any number of amazingly well constructed tunes that came out of CTI’s releases in the early ‘70s.  I’m digging this one a lot.


Vocalist Curtis Stigers has just put out a new release with the Danish Radio Big Band titled One for the Road that is a tribute (down to the CD cover) to the Sinatra & Basie classic Live at the Sands.  The disc is at its best when the arrangers try new things with the tunes, including: "Fly Me To The Moon" gets a welcome update, and "They Can’t Take That Away From Me" and "Come Fly With Me" are both really well done.  A big plus on this disc is that Stigers does not 'do' Sinatra, he does Stigers, with one notable exception being the vocal/piano duet on "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" when he knocks it right out of the park.  So, if you like your nostalgia with a hint of modernity, I think you’ll like One for the Road quite a bit. 


Finally, how about some excellent local jazz from drummer Gustavo Cortiñas and his group Snapshot, who have just released the disc Esse, a tribute to Philosophy and the philosophers who have philosophized.  This is a really wonderful disc, filled with some young heavy hitters from Chicago’s jazz scene, namely Roy McGrath (tenor sax), Justin Copeland (trumpet), Adam Thornburg (trombone), Hans Luchs (guitar), Joaquin Garcia (piano) and Kitt Lyles (bass).  Together, they make some magic on these heady compositions.  "Dialetics of Freedom" is an epic, clocking in at just under 13 exciting minutes, while "Arete" has a Latin groove and a neat melody that involves all three horns on the front line with Copeland leading the charge, and "Ubermensch" sounds more than just a little like the three horn version of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. …which is a great, great thing.   


Next week, we’ll take a look at the latest from Joey DeFrancesco, and more, here in the Music Lounge!  ‘Til then, keep your ears open!