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

February 5th, 2024

Blue Moods – Swing & Soul (Posi-Tone)

Blue Moods is one of the handful of collectives put together by the brain trust at Posi-Tone records. In 2022, this group made an album in tribute to Charles Mingus called Myth & Wisdom. This year, they’re back with a salute to the music of Duke Pearson called Swing & Soul. This is a cast of Posi-Tone all-stars: saxophonist Diego Rivera, pianists Art Hirahara and Jon Davis, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. Duke Pearson played piano, wrote and/or arranged for plenty of heavyweights in the 60’s for Blue Note records, including Donald Byrd, Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson and Hank Mobley. And that means that we might not always remember that Pearson wrote all of the gems on Swing & Soul, like “Idle Moments,” or “Each Time I Think of You.” The renditions of these songs are effective, and in some cases, like “ESP,” “Big Bertha” or the aforementioned “Idle Moments” are jarring, in a quite clever way. Not only do we get to hear more of Pearson’s writing because of Swing & Soul, but something tells me that we’ll be listening to more of these original recordings as well. And that’s a very, very good thing.

Marius Van Den Brink – New York Knock (Highline Music)

Pianist Marius Van Den Brink is a young player and composer based in New York, and he’s just released his sophomore album, New York Knock. Joined by an enviable crew, featuring Stacy Dillard on saxophone, Sean Jones on trumpet, Matt Penman on the bass and Willie Jones III on the drums, this album is all business. Van Den Brink wrote all 9 of the compositions heard on the album, and many of them are fantastic. “Dom’s Groove” is a mid-tempo, slightly funky jam that helps the whole band to shine, whether it’s with some excellent soloing or the rock-solid feel or the propulsive horn lines behind Van Den Brink’s solo. “Camara” is a pleasant foray into Latin Jazz. The far too short “Coral Sun” brings in Chicago’s own Maurice “Mobetta” Brown for a guest appearance on trumpet. If New York Knock is indicative of what’s happening with young, up and coming players in New York, then the Jazz scene is in good hands, indeed.

Kirsten Edkins – Shapes & Sound (Cohearent Records)

Saxophonist Kirsten Edkins recently released her latest album, Shapes & Sound. Surrounding herself with an excellent band with Gerald Clayton at the piano, Lamar Guillary on the trombone, Ahmet Turkmenaglu on the bass and Chris Wabich on the drums. Shapes & Sound is a nice, swinging album that has the feel of a classic hard bop record. “Party Slug” gets the party started with a classic late 60’s boogaloo feel. “Bird Shapes” turns up the heat and treats the listener to nice solos by Edkins and Clayton. Finally, I like the swagger of “Sweet Pickles,” whose tenor/trombone front line sounds like a fresh update on the sounds of the early Jazz Crusaders.

McAninch Arts Center