Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ben Allison - Little Things Rule the World (Palmetto, 2008)

Bassist and composer Ben Allison returns with another CD for the small but savvy Palmetto label, where he's joined by a familiar cast of characters, dubbed Man Sized Safe for this album - Steve Cardenas on guitar, Ron Horton on trumpet, Michael Blake on saxophones and Michael Sarin on drums. This is an interesting mix of original compositions and covers. The most interesting track on the disc for me was one of the covers in fact, a beautiful instrumental arrangement of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" featuring some very warm and lyrical trumpet from Horton. Allison gets a fine feature here also with his solid bass backing and soloing. The Allison original "Four Folk Songs" has an intricate melody that resolves into a strutting riff and then quiet interlude for guitar and bass. Fine ensemble playing is a hallmarks of the original compositions, "Respiration" and "Little Things Rule the World" feature well integrated group playing. These men have been playing in each other's groups for years, and the camaraderie shows in the selfless playing. This is another very fine addition to Allison's consistently excellent discography. Thoughtfully and intelligent writing combined with excellent musicianship makes for a wonderful listening experience.

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