Saturday, December 21, 2013

Two For Fourteen

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Got two new CDs today that will  be releases for 2014 that I like quite a lot. One is Pete Mills , "Sweet Shadow" (Cellar Live 2014), a quintet outing that packs a nice punch. Mills plays tenor sax and has rounded up a nice group: Pete McCann on guitars, Martin Wind on bass, Matt Wilson on drums, all of whom I know, and a newcomer who is a standout on piano, Erik Augis. Together they create a feeling of old time hard bop/post bop as they spin through twelve songs, most by Mills, who writes in a classic style reminiscent of classic Blue Note sessions of the 50s and early 60s. Plus there are two short duos of free ranging music with Mills on tenor and Wilson on the drum set. A lot to like, including special arrangements for two classics,  "Serenade to a Cuckoo" and "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend."  I think lovers of the mainstream will find a lot to like here.

A note to listeners --- The Cellar Live label will continue, but the Cellar Night Club will be closing. Hopefully we will continue to get great music from Cory Weeds, both as producer and as a musician, as this new CD is only one of many great recordings that I have from the label. Good luck to Mr. Weeds on his endeavors.

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The same Matt Wilson is back on the second recording, which is the Matt Wilson Quartet, "Gathering Call" (Palmetto 2014) -- with Jeff Lederer on winds, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Chris Lightcap on bass and Wilson on drums -- and a special guest, John Medeski, on piano. Wilson has a flair for creating a special sound full of energy and creativity, last year with his Arts and Crafts Band and now with this quartet and Medeski. This is a hard grooving delight full of nice tunes, sharp cuts and turns, and virtuosity in each seat. The songs are a mix of straight ahead hard play ("How Ya Going"), atmospheric lyricism ("Dancing Waters"), and fascinating covers of Ellington, Charlie Rouse, and even Beyonce ("If I Were a Boy"). Matt Wilson clearly thinks of music as fun, and audiences as his muse. He creates for his listeners enjoyment and his infectious spirit pervades the music.

So we are off and running into the New Year with a bang.

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