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

September 6th, 2022

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet – Diamonds and Other Jewels (AMM Records)

Saxophonist Walt Weiskopf is back with a band he’s had together since 2017, his European Quartet, for a new album called Diamonds and Other Jewels. Carl Winther is the pianist, Andreas Lang is on the bass playing duties, and Anders Morgensen is the drummer on the session. The album is a straight-ahead swinger, and the band is on fire throughout a program made up mostly of Weiskopf’s originals (“My Old Flame” is the only standard here), and they are clearly taking no prisoners on Diamonds and Other Jewels.

Johannes Wallmann – Precarious Towers (Shifting Paradigm Records)

Pianinst Johannes Wallmann hails from Madison, Wisconsin, where he’s the head of the Jazz program at the University of Wisconsin. He’s recently released a fantastic new album with a great band called Precarious Towers. Along for the ride with him is Sharel Cassity on the saxophone, Mitch Shiner on the vibes, John Christiensen on bass and Devin Drobka on the drums. At first listen, I heard the influence of 70’s Keith Jarrett, which is awesome, but just like a big onion, further listening is like peeling back more layers, and further discoveries occur. Wallmann can swing. Wallmann can maneuver through a ballad beautifully. But he can also bring the funk quite convincingly. The sole standard here, “Angel Eyes,” helps show where the band is at on some more familiar territory, but this whole disc is fascinating.

Mike Clark, Leon Lee Dorsey & Mike LeDonne – Blues on Top (JazzAvenue1 Records)

Mike Clark and Leon Lee Dorsey have been making albums together for a while, with a handful of top notch pianists, including Harold Mabern’s last recording session, Thank You, Mr. Mabern. This time, it’s Mike LeDonne in the hot seat for Blues on Top. Clark and Dorsey are a hard hitting drums and bass tandem, and with LeDonne, that is even more apparent. LeDonne’s “Lock it in the Pocket” is as funky as the name suggests, “Stolen Moments” has never sounded more aggressive, and this might be the fastest I’ve ever heard anyone play “Willow Weep for Me.” All in all, Blues On Top is an album full of welcome surprises.

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