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

September 25th, 2023

Joel Haynes – The Return (Cellar Music)

Educator and Drummer Joel Haynes found himself back in a studio earlier in 2023 with a fantastic group for his latest album, The Return. Saxophonist Seamus Blake, pianist Tilden Webb and bassist Neil Swainson are also here for the adventures found on this new release, and they are plenty. Everything I can tell you about The Return happens on the Beatles’ classic, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” In contrast with the booming drums on the original, here, we are greeted with a swinging groove with a light touch and an airy feel that begs for thoughtful improvisations throughout its seven minute lifespan. In some moments, like “The Return,” the tempos burn fiercely. In other moments, such as “Angel,” we get a more contemplative mood. But throughout the album, we get many swinging grooves with a light touch, an airy feel and thoughtful improvisations.

Triogram – Triogram (Circle Theory Music)

The piano trio that calls themselves Triogram consists of bassist and leader Will Lyle, pianist Bijan Taghavi and drummer Kofi Shepsu. Their self-titled album is a pretty solid way to start off what we can only hope is a fruitful collaboration together. Boasting five originals over the course of its  tracks, Triogram jumps from strength to strength. Lyle’s “Esau” gets things rolling with a fire-breathing swing that grabs your attention. The two standards here, “Street of Dreams” and “How Deep is the Ocean,” are instructive. “Street of Dreams” shows us that they have the discipline to play a lovely ballad, and “How Deep is the Ocean” shows off their creativity with a well-worn classic. The pairing of “Asojano” and “Ezra” in the middle of the album makes for a nice and unexpected 11 minute suite that shows off the talents of all three of Triogram’s members. I think you’re going to like this one. And I hope we see a second Triogram record on the horizon sooner rather than later.

Willie Morris – Conversation Starter (Posi-Tone)

If the opening moments of an album can set the tone for the whole record, then “Tina’s Dream” from Willie Morris’ album, Conversation Starter, is as auspicious of an opening track as you might find on a straight-ahead jazz album this year. Morris’ wailing intro sounds both like a call to prayer and an attempt to channel Wayne Shorter, in spirit if not in tone. “Cries” and “The Strength of Those Who Bear the Burden” both sound as if they might have been quite at home on a mid-60’s Jazz Messengers record. Tenor saxophonist Willie Morris, makes this music pop with the help of fellow saxophonist Patrick Cornelius (who also has a new album out), and the rhythm section of Jon Davis (piano), Adi Meyerson (bass), and EJ Strickland (drums). Conversation Starter lives up to its name.

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