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

February 14th, 2022

Pete Malinverni – On the Town (Planet Arts)

In the world of Jazz, there are always going to be a lot of interesting and extremely well executed piano trio albums released every year. So, if you’re a fantastic New York based pianist, how do you make yours stand out? For pianist Pete Malinverni, the answer was to do an album dedicated to the work of Leonard Bernstein. Drawing from works that Bernstein specifically wrote for and about New York, Malinverni has put together a really nice program. He’s got help here from bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton, and the three of them do these songs justice. “I Feel Pretty” “Some Other Time” “Lucky To Be Me,” and more are all done with some obvious love and adoration for their original composer. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!

DeAndre Lettsome – Impetus (Bold City Records)

This is the first I’ve heard of saxophonist DeAndre Lettsome, out of Jacksonville, Florida, but on Impetus, the young musician already sounds fully formed, drawing from his Jazz ancestors, as well as R&B and Hip-Hop, and the results are quite pleasing to these ears. Other than Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green,” Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” and the Jerome Kern standard “I’m Old Fashioned,” this is an all original program, and all of these songs sound nice, whether we’re listening to an uptempo romp like “Focus” or something slower and more modern in its conception like “Beyond Understanding.” I just hope that we hear more soon from Mr. Lettsome, because as first impressions go, this one is outstanding.

James Sanders & Conjunto – Evidencia (Amadeo)

James Sanders and Conjunto is a Chicago treasure. Led by violinist James Sanders, This longstanding Afro-Cuban Jazz ensemble has long been an interesting study in contrasts: a band that sounds like a Charanga (the French inspired flute and violin groups of Cuba which were strictly dance ensembles), but is an improvisational monster, boasting some of the best musicians in Chicago, including Leandro Lopez-Varady on piano, Steve Eisen on woodwinds, Jose Porcayo on bass, Joe Rendon on congas, Luis Rosario on bongos, and Jean-Christoph Leroy on drums. On this program of all original material (four written by Sanders and one by Lopez-Varady), solos build and breathe beautifully. Tempos shift, sections change without warning. This might be “Latin Jazz,” but it’s not necessarily dancers’ music. Instead, it is Jazz through and through, and great Jazz through and through. I’m particularly fond of “Descarga,” “Latin Flow,” and “Ukrainian Folk Song,” but all five of these songs are fantastic to listen to, and I look forward to getting to share this one with you more on DCB Jazz and on The Latin Bit!


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