Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ben Allison - Buzz (Palmetto, 2004)

Ben Allison's new compact disc continues the trend that his other discs on Palmetto have begun, intricite compositions which are heavily testured, but still with enough space to allow the soloists to make their mark and not lose their individuality. Most of the regulars from the Jazz Composter's Collective make appearances here - Michael Blake and Ted Nash on saxophones, Frank Kimbrough on piano, Michael Sarin on drums and of course Allison on bass and all compositions except for a cover of the
Beatles "Across the Universe."

This disc brings the group back to a more mainstream jazz sensibility after the world music experimentation of his last record, Peace Pipe (my album of the year, 2002.) There's a rather melancholy feel to this record, different from the playful records Allison has put out in the past. "Respiration" blends the the horns in a slower paced mixture over the piano and bass/drums backdrop. "Mauritania" has some really pretty flute work from Ted Nash over a gentle horm backdrop and tasteful bass and drums. The title track spices things up with some prepared piano from Kimbrough and altered bass from the leader. The disc ends on a strange note with the Beatles cover taken a slow, almost narcotic pace. It's an odd ending for a disc by one of jazz's most
promising composers.

As with any disc by a member of the Jazz Composers Collective, this disc makes you think about the nature of composition and improvisation in jazz. The ensemble is very tight and benefit from their years of working together. While this may not be the finest example of thier talent, it's a worthwhile disc.

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