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

July 24th, 2023

Fareed Haque – Casseus! (self-released)

Chicagoan, guitarist and educator Fareed Haque has released a new and absolutely unique album called Casseus! The premise is simple: take the music of Haitian guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus, arrange them, and then have them played by a top-notch band: Kevin Kozol on keys, Alex Austin on bass, Greg Fundis on drums, Jose Maria Piedra on percussion, and a whole bunch of excellent guest stars as well. You might not know these songs now, but after hearing “Simbi,” “Dance of the Hounsies” or “Coumbite,” you, like me, will go hunting for more of the source material. Casseus! Is an excellent album, indeed.

Christine Jensen – Day Moon (Justin Time)

Saxophonist Christine Jensen starts off her latest album, Day Moon, with its title track, which takes its time to build. Starting as a what you think might be a pretty ballad, it instead takes plenty of twists and turns, and Jensen unleashes a performance that hints at Coltrane, but has a character all of its own. Jensen is joined by a potent trio, with Steve Amirault playing piano, Adrian Vedady on bass and Jim Doxas on drums. “Girls Can Play The Blues” is a slow romp that might be the most unexpected thing on the album, while “Wind Up” is a modern swinger with some satisfying give and take between Jensen and her rhythm section. Take note when Day Moon comes on the air. You’re going to dig what you hear.

Jalen Baker – Be Still (Cellar Music)

Be Still is the second album from the young vibraphonist Jalen Baker. Baker has a connection to Chicago – he got his undergraduate degree at Columbia College back in 2017 before heading Florida and then to Houston, where he now resides. Baker is joined by pianist Paul Cornish, bassist Gabriel Godoy and drummer Gavin Moolchan, and the four of them make some excellent modern jazz that recalls a couple of Chicagoans who have hit the big time, Marquis Hill and Joel Ross. That acoustic jazz meets hip-hop feel really comes through on the arrangement of Joe Henderson’s “Jinriksha.” The jams are impressive throughout, whether they’re Baker’s originals, like “The Light” or “There’s Beauty in Fear,” or the lovely reading of “Body and Soul.”

McAninch Arts Center