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

March 6th, 2023

Hey everyone! So, this week, I wanted to take a moment to check out some of the albums that are available during our Spring Pledge Drive. If one of these piques your interest, please consider making a contribution to WDCB this week, and help us to continue being Chicago’s home for Jazz every day of the week.  Thanks!

Rachael & Vilray – I Love a Love Song! (Nonesuch)

Rachael Price, of Lake Street Dive fame, is back with her second duet album with the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Vilray. Just like their self-titled album in 2019, Vilray provides all of the songs, but on I Love a Love Song!, they’ve gone all-out with the backing band, and it makes a difference. Larry Goldings provides the keyboard work, David Piltch plays bass, Joe LaBarbara is the drummer, and with Rachael and Vilray up top, you get a charming, intimate sounding record that hints at Django and the Hot Club, but lands somewhere else entirely.


Emmet Cohen – Uptown in Orbit (Mack Avenue)

Pianist Emmet Cohen continues to grow in myriad directions on his latest album, Uptown in Orbit. From slick stride to some of Cohen’s most ethereal playing to date, Cohen impresses throughout, whether he’s playing in a trio with bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole or in a quintet with the addition of saxophonist Patrick Bartley and trumpeter Sean Jones. Considering how much reverence Cohen tends to have for the classics he plays (“Lil’ Darlin’,” Willie the Lion Smith’s “Finger Buster” or Gerry Mulligan’s “Venus de Milo” all come to mind), it’s a revelation to see how far out he’s willing to take Cedar Walton’s “Mosaic,” which largely functions as a feature for Kyle Poole, but some laser focus playing from the piano and bass, too. The whole band swings, grooves and gets deliciously rambunctious on “Uptown in Orbit,” which is a highlight for me, as is his set-ending take on Ellington’s “Bragging in Brass.” This is all to say, there’s lots to love here, and I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites, too.


Bobby Broom – Keyed Up (Steele Records)

Bobby Broom is not just one of Chicago’s great guitarists, he’s also one of Jazz’s great modern guitarists, and so, when a new Bobby Broom album comes out, it’s a big deal. On his latest, Keyed Up, we get a program filled with songs written by pianists. And, to ensure its success, Broom has surrounded himself with a phenomenal band: Justin Dillard on keyboards, Dennis Carroll on bass, and Kobie Watkins is playing drums. From Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations” to Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty,” to James Williams “Soulful Bill,” this is a collection of fantastic songs given wholly new life by Broom and Company.


Raíces Latin Jazz Quintet featuring vibraphonist Joe Sonnefeldt – Raíces (self-produced)

Chicago-based Raíces Latin Jazz Quintet featuring vibraphonist Joe Sonnefeldt has released its debut album Raíces. Originally formed by the amazing percussionist Ruben Alvarez, these days the band is in the hands of vibraphonist and composer Joe Sonnefeldt. Sonnefeldt takes this music seriously, and it shows. This is an all-original disc of authentic Latin Jazz, with a band of heavyweights, including Bobby Delgado, Joe Rendon and Jorge Leal on the percussion, Stuart Seale on keyboards and Eric Willman Ferrer Yard on bass. It’s tasty.


Houston Person – Reminiscing at Rudy’s (High Note)

Houston Person, having just turned 88 earlier this month, still shows no signs of slowing down, putting out another album filled with luxurious ballads and mid-tempo musings with a top-notch band surrounding him. Joined by Russell Malone’s guitar, Larry Fuller at the piano bench, Matthew Parrish playing bass and Lewis Nash on the drums, Reminiscing at Rudy’s is the audio equivalent of the perfect pair of jeans. “At Long Last Love,” “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” and “Moon River” are all solid, right down the middle affairs that are expertly engineered to make their listeners happy and keep them grooving.


Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House (Cellar Live)

Tim Fitzgerald is a busy guitarist in Chicago, playing with musicians all over town. And, with Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House, he’s finally stepped out on his own. Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House is a love letter to the legendary Wes Montgomery, with a local all-star cast featuring Victor Garcia on trumpet, Greg Ward and Chris Madsen on saxophones and the rhythm section of Tom Vaitsas, Christian Dillingham and George Fludas.  The arrangers on the session, Victor Garcia, Chris Madsen and Tim Fitzgerald, were smart to come at these classic songs from all new angles, and the result is a fantastic and fresh listen.

Blues Time
McAninch Arts Center