Friday, November 16, 2012

Ben Allison, Michael Blake and Rudy Royston - Union Square (Abeat, 2012)

Bassist and composer Ben Allison has been at the center of the modern jazz scene as a bandleader and the driving force behind the Jazz Composers Collective which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. On this album he plays in a stripped down trio format with longtime collaborator Michael Blake on tenor and soprano saxophones and Rudy Royston on drums. The music on this album features great interplay and a patient and unforced conception. “Flapper” has a strong loping bass and drums combination and uptempo but rough hewn saxophone. Everyone works together for an concise and potent performance. Powerhouse bass and drums again drive “Lucky Man” where Blake gradually develops the pace of his saxophone playing to meet the frenetic rhythm that the trio builds to a furious conclusion. “Run Southern Boy” is enveloped in a dark feel, growing fast and strong with an undercurrent of unease. Blake’s raw and sandpaper-rough saxophone keeps everyone on edge and the music is urgent, powerful and edgy. Many years of playing together have allowed the musicians on this album to develop a level of trust that generates levels of yearning, emotional textures in the music and  a thoughtful evolution of their sound and improvisational conception. Union Square -

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