Wednesday, July 15, 2009

J.D. Allen - Shine! (Sunnyside, 2009)

Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen’s second album for Sunnyside continues the taught and austere music that he recorded on his previous album, I Am, I Am. Playing in an open ended trio setting with bassist Greg August and drummer Rudy Royston, Allen explores the tough, no-nonsense musical territory that Sonny Rollins pioneered in his trio recordings of the 1950’s. The music recorded on this album is made up of relatively short and angular compositions, shards of music like pieces of glass from a broken window. The first two tracks are excellent; “Esre” and “Sonhouse” have strong saxophone and a raw, ripe feel. The music is fast and loose, buoyed by hyper drumming and filled with nervous energy. “Conjuration of Angles” tones things down a bit, the music is still robust, but with a hollow drum sound and strong bass giving the music an ominous feel, like storm clouds gathering in the distance. “East Boogie (Kolby’s Theme)” and “Ephraim” take things back to the faster pace, with hard charging bass and drums setting the pace and Allen’s tenor sounding ripe and strong. This was a solid album of tight, tough modern jazz. The lack of a pianist or guitarist adds more risk for the players involved, but they seem to revel in the freedom and use that open space to create compelling music. The music stretches time to acclimate itself to the music, assimilating blues, bop and modal strains of jazz into their own unique conception.
Shine -

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