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

July 3rd, 2023

Orrin Evans – The Red Door (Smoke Sessions)

Pianist Orrin Evans has been recording a ton for the Smoke Sessions label in recent years, and his latest, The Red Door, is a fascinating effort. Kicking off with the title track, which he also recorded with The Bad Plus during his short tenure with that band, shows off his way with a driving groove. Playing with a few different ensembles throughout the course of The Red Door’s twelve tracks, we hear Evans as a compelling player of standards on “The Good Life” and “All The Things You Are.” On Geri Allen’s “Feed the Fire” – which you’ll hear on an upcoming episode of Notes from the Jazz Underground – or Ralph Peterson’s “Smoke Rings” Evans proves to be an exciting advocate for songs that should become modern standards, and on his own song “Weezy,” he is a patient artist with an imposing sound.

Ray Vega & Thomas Marriott East West Trumpet Summit – Coast to Coast (Origin)

I’ve always enjoyed the Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott trumpet summit albums, because they paint these two excellent trumpet players in different lights than one might be accustomed to. Marriott is a firebrand who fearlessly treads some very interesting waters. Vega is a hot shot trumpeter who can play top-notch Latin Jazz with the best of ‘em.   And on the East West Trumpet Summit albums, they play straight ahead, swinging jazz at an exceedingly high level. This time, their rhythm section features Orrin Evans (again!) on piano, Michael Glynn on bass and Cannonball Adderley alum Roy McCurdy plays the drums. Right out of the gate, they’re swinging on “One Day at a Time.” And what happens if you only play the bridge to Miles Davis’ “Half Nelson?” You get “Quarter Nelson,” of course.  Both trumpeters get a ballad to themselves; Marriott on “You’ve Changed” and Vega on “Girl Talk,” and it’s fascinating to see these guys take on a couple of my favorite songs, Don Cherry’s “Art Deco” and Charles Mingus’ “So Long Eric.” All in all, another excellent effort from the East West Trumpet Summit.

James Weidman Trio – Sonic Realities (Inner Circle Music)

Pianist James Weidman, bassist Harvie S and drummer Alvester Garnett just released a lovely album, called Sonic Realities. Now, I don’t know what sonic realities they’re searching for, but I am glad to be with them on the ride. Things are mellow here from the start. “Fuvi Blue” is at a swinging tempo, to be sure, but it is relaxed. Charlie Parker’s “Steeplechase” as a half-time, reggaeish jam? Well, that’s funky, and off the beaten path, and mellow. “Jam for Jimmy James” eases into Joe Sample’s turf, which is both very groovy, and again, very mellow. I’m digging this. When you hear it on DCB Jazz, you’ll be digging it, too.

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