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

May 22nd, 2023

George Coleman

George Coleman – Live at Smalls Jazz Club (Cellar Music)

At 88, and a career that saw him playing with Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Joey DeFrancesco (and SO MANY more), if saxophonist George Coleman wanted to relax and rest on his laurels, no one would blame him. But, instead, he’s still out there playing and recording, and he’s got a new album out, Live at Smalls Jazz Club. Coleman’s still got it, tearing it up on Miles Davis’ “Four,” pushing the band on a driving rendition of Jobim’s “Meditation” and bringing his own tune to the table on “Blues for Smalls.” Of course, it always helps to have a fantastic rhythm section in the hunt with you, and you know that NYC’s finest are all eager to play Big George. So, Spike Wilner’s on the piano bench, Peter Washington handles the bass duties, and Joe Farnsworth is behind the drums. These four are SWINGIN’ on these eight songs, too. There aren’t too many of the older titans left, and even fewer still that are still playing on a regular basis. I, for one, am grateful for Live at Smalls Jazz Club, and will be playing it often.

Mike Clark

Mike Clark – Mike Clark Plays Herbie Hancock (Sunnyside)

Drummer Mike Clark has been quite busy these days, appearing on a slate of excellent trio records led by bassist Leon Lee Dorsey, and featuring some excellent pianists like Harold Mabern, Manuel Valera, and Michael Wolff. This time, Mike Clark leads the session, looking back at his one-time boss and musical collaborator, Herbie Hancock. On the  aptly titled "Mike Clark Plays Herbie Hancock” Clark pulls in Dorsey for the bass duties, and pianist Jon Davis is in the hot seat. The album jumps right out of the speakers with an excellent treatment of “Toys.” One of Clark’s most well-known recorded moments is his playing on Hancock’s “Actual Proof,” so it makes sense that it would show up here. Interestingly, it gets a whole new arrangement to make it a great mid-tempo swinger, as opposed to the jazz-funk of the original version on Thrust. My favorite moment on this album is the upbeat take on “Chan’s Song” that just fits oh so nicely.

Kenny Reichert

Kenny Reichert – Deep Breath (Shifting Paradigm Records)

Guitarist Kenny Reichert might be making Chicago his home these days, but he’s got deep roots on the other side of the Wisconsin border, where his latest album, Deep Breath was recorded with another three guys known for playing on both sides of the cheddar curtain, saxophonist Tony Barba, bassist John Christensen and drummer Devin Drobka. Upping the ante even further, vocalist Alyssa Allgood sings on the two songs that she contributed lyrics to, “Bashful” and “Deep Breath.” Obviously, Reichert knows better than I whether or not it was actually an influence or not, but the most esoteric parts of Deep Breath sound like they are deeply influenced by the Kurt Rosenwinkel modern-day classic, The Next Step. “How’s it Going?” even sounds specifically inspired by that album’s “Zhivago.” On other moments, though, we’re treated to some swingin’ and imaginative music, like on the Monk inspired “Spears.” If Deep Breath is any indication, the future is incredibly bright for Kenny Reichert. Make sure you check this one out.

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