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November 21st, 2022

Spike Wilner Trio – Spike Wilner Trio Plays Monk & Ellington (Cellar Live)

Piano trio tributes to Thelonious Monk and/or Duke Ellington are nothing new. The Spike Wilner Trio’s addition to this canon, Spike Wilner Trio Plays Monk and Ellington is expertly played by Spike (piano), Peter Washington (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Monk gets four songs, the team of Ellington and Strayhorn get four tunes, and “Wonderful! Wonderful!” is thrown in for good measure. “Pannonica” retains Monk’s character, while “Eronel,” “Well You Needn’t,” and “Let’s Cool One” all swing nicely in a way that acknowledges Monk while still sounding like the straight-ahead pianist that Wilner is. The Ellington and Strayhorn songs are lovely, too. Turns out that “Gypsy Without a Song” sounds pretty good when made funky, and both “U.M.M.G.” and “Intimacy of the Blues” are gloriously in the pocket with tasty mid-tempo grooves.


Connie Han – Secrets of Inanna (Mack Ave)

Keyboardist Connie Han has been a fixture on the modern Jazz scene for the past five years or so, making some interesting and heavy hitting music. On her third album, Secrets of Inanna, she changes course a bit, turning in a thoroughly intriguing song cycle built around the Sumerian goddess. Han is joined by Katisse Buckingham on piccolo and flute, Rich Perry on sax, John Pattitucci on bass and Bill Wysaske on drums. “Desert Air” and “Morning Star,” two of the mellower moments on the album are also two of its more intriguing moments. The space added with the slower tempos really allows Han’s playing to be heard, and the influence of Chick Corea reveals itself nicely.


Rebecca Coupe Franks – Planets (self-produced)

Trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks has just released her latest album, Planets. Featuring pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Johnathan Blake, this is a potent band. Over the course of 14 tracks, we get musical tributes to 8 of the 9 planets (sorry, Pluto), plus jams dedicated to the Sun, Moon and Planet X. Three of the compositions (“Moon,” “Neptune” and “Earth”) also get duet treatments. “Sun” kicks things off with a solid boogaloo reminiscent of Lee Morgan on Blue Note. “Saturn” swings impressively hard, and the full band version of “Earth” is just flat out fun. Planets is a nice addition to the Jazz universe in 2022, and I look forward to playing it for you.

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