What's New on WDCB... with Paul Abella
Russell Ferrante Trio – Inflexion (Blue Canoe)
Mention the name Russell Ferrante, and people in the know will immediately think of the Yellowjackets, where Ferrante will play all manners of acoustic and electric keyboards in that chops fueled ensemble. On Inflexion, he strips things down to an acoustic piano trio, and the results are impressive. The most impressive songs on here are the tunes that recall the Yellowjackets, like "Spoons" or "Stick-To-It-Iveness," which are as knotty and complicated as anything on any Yellowjackets record. And while most of the album is composed of songs written by Ferrante, he brought in a few standards as well, including Billy Strayhorn's "Isfahan" and Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning." Combine it all together, and you've got a really nice album on your hands.
Greg Abate – Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron (Whaling City Sound)
Saxophonist Greg Abate has been on a bit of a tear over the course of his last few records, recording some the best work of his career with the Tim Ray Trio, and now, on his latest, Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron, he's recorded his best album yet, in my humble opinion. Of course, it helps that the composer of all of these songs is along for the ride, along with Dezron Douglas (bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums). Some of Barron's most enduring songs are collected here, like "Sunshower," "Cook's Bay," "Bud Like," and "Sonia Braga," just to name a few. Abate is heard here on flute and four different saxophones, and he shines throughout. I think you'll be hearing this one a bunch in the next month or two on DCB Jazz!
Zvonimir Tot's Jazz Stringtet – Sarabande Blue (Groove Art)
Guitarist Zvonimir Tot has put together an interesting project marrying his songs and arrangements to a five piece string section. Sarabande Blue is a fascinating look into the "Third Stream," where Jazz meets Classical music. Sometimes, like on "Groove Me Wah" or "Maki (Guts & Glory)," Jazz is in the driver's seat. On other songs, such as "Fuga Longa, Vita Brevis," the Classical aspect is most apparent. However, from first track to last track, Sarabande Blue is a compelling listen.