Wednesday, April 14, 2010

J.D. Allen - In Search Of (Red Records, 1999)

Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen really came into his own in the latter half of this decade, releasing two well regarded trio albums on the Sunnyside label. This particular disc comes from the beginning of his career, and marked his debut recording as a leader. Joining him on this album are: Fabio Morgera on trumpet and flugelhorn, Shedrick Mitchell on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Rodney Green drums. Already on this disc you can hear the confidence with which Allen plays, building logical and well thought out solos, and playing with a deep yearning tone reminiscent of middle period John Coltrane. Coltrane really seems to be a touchstone for this album, with Allen's dark and meaty tenor building the intensity of the music to a near Interstellar Space level on the torrid track "In Other Words" where very fast paced tenor and impressive drumming make for a very exciting performance. Allen and Green are on the same wavelength during the course of the entire album and take great delight in pushing each other to new heights. "Omar" also shows a Coltrane influence, with strong tenor and drum work buoyed by muscular and supple trumpet. The title track "In Search Of" slows things down to a lush and open ended ballad featuring patient breathy saxophone. The final track shows the direction Allen would explore later on, a slow and deeply bluesy meditation of Ornette Coleman's classic composition "Lonely Woman" with just bass in accompaniment. Allen and Revis dig deep on that performance making for a haunting and emotional conclusion to an auspicious debut. In Search Of -

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