"Paul doesn’t seem to be afraid to try anything, no matter how implausible it might seem."
Paul Abella and his crew have never been afraid to let their music pay respect to their cultural matrix; they’re all guys in their 30’s, and although they all have a deep love of jazz, they also grew up with rock and funk and the blues and folk and world music.
They give respect to ALL of their musical forebears, whether that might be Bird or Jimmy Page. They want to have fun, they want you to have fun, but they also want to make you think a little bit. In that they follow a proud lineage that starts with Armstrong and weaves a path through Basie, John Kirby, Cannonball Adderley, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, George Benson and The Bad Plus. (Our compays in the world of Latin-Jazz have been even less conflicted about mixing art and good times; witness Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente, among others; Abella is very aware of this, being a frequent guest at many of the Latin-Jazz jam sessions that happen in Chicago.)
Paul doesn’t seem to be afraid to try anything, no matter how implausible it might seem. Some of the charts that Paul has asked me to write for the band were noble but failed attempts (Ronnie James Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark” sticks out in both of our memories), but ya gotta try, know what I mean? Is there any other jazz band out there playing tunes by Bob Dylan or Jane’s Addiction or Nine Inch Nails? And Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” works pretty good; who’d a thunk?
The trio of Paul, Bob and Mitch have been playing together for a while; they are truly a band, while Stephen is technically a guest (albeit a regular one). Paul tells me that he and Bob regularly talk about the way that various rhythm sections function, trying to figure out how to make their oddball instrumentation work.
Paul’s gutsy decision to stick to his guns, to play the cajón and not play drumset in the band, opens up the texture; he’s a solid player, and the music grooves just fine. And while it helps that Mitch is an able vocalist with a pleasing voice, this band is, at heart, an instrumental trio (plus one, here).
Mitch is a fine guitarist, adept at either jazz, rock or folk, and Bob is swinging bassist with everything that you look for in a bassist: bog sound, good feel and solid time.
From the liner notes by Steve Hashimoto