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

April 25th, 2022

Pat Mallinger, Brent Griffin, Jr. & Lenard Simpson – Perspectives (Afar Music)

Keyboardist, composer, bandleader and jazz impresario Richard D. Johnson has been on a roll as of late, putting out a handful of excellent albums, the first featuring the alto players, followed by one with a Latin tinge on holiday favorites, then an all-tenor affair, and now, we’re onto Perspectives, with three more of Chicago’s heavyweights. This album is back to alto players: Pat Mallinger, Brent Griffin, Jr. and Lenard Simpson. As for the rhythm section, well, that’s top-notch, too, with Johnson handling the keys duties, John Tate on bass, and Xavier Breaker on the drums. With that kind of firepower, excellence is guaranteed. And excellence is delivered! Mallinger, Griffin and Johnson provide the compositions heard on Perspectives, and they’re all great. These are seven songs that are right in the pocket, greasy and grooving, and you’ll be hearing these a bunch on DCB Jazz.

Skip Walker – Tina’s Contemplation (self-produced)

North Carolina based drummer Skip Walker has put together an interesting tribute to the work of saxophonist Tina Brooks. It’s interesting for two reasons: first off, in recent years, we’ve seen fewer and fewer tributes to the more soulful jazz artists of the ‘50s and ‘60s who made great albums for Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside and Verve, and secondly, this tribute to saxophonist Tina Brooks is presented by a piano trio. Travis Shook is the pianist, and Essiet Okon Essiet handles the low notes. These songs and arrangements work, and the heartfelt tributes written by Walker and Shook make for a nice counterpoint to the four Brooks originals and one standard. All in all, it’s a cool presentation, and I think you’re going to appreciate Tina’s Contemplation just as much as I do.

Michael Weiss – Persistence (Cellar Live)

Pianist Michael Weiss has recently released a new album called Persistence. There’s a lot to like from the first note, and Weiss gets a lot of help here from a stellar supporting crew: saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Pete van Nostrand. Persistence, at its best, is often imbued with the kind of funky swing that compels head bobs and foot taps from the listener (well, at least THIS listener). I really like all of Weiss’ originals here, but the emphatic push given to the Jitterbug Waltz and Jobim’s Once I Loved is pretty hard to ignore.

Jazz Night in America
McAninch Arts Center