Wednesday, August 15, 2018

JD Allen - Love Stone (Savant, 2018)

After a well regarded series of exploratory jazz albums in the trio format, tenor saxophonist JD Allen switches to a new project, a quartet album focused on memorable ballads. Accompanied by Liberty Ellman on guitar, Gregg August on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, they take a subtle song based approach with a band that complements each other well, playing with patience and subtlety. The album opens with "Stranger in Paradise" beginning with an open guitar theme, which becomes even more haunting as the remainder of the band eases in. The group stays true to the melody of the song, with romantic nods to the original as light brushes of guitar eases into the midsection, before the lonely saxophone returns to usher in a languorous ending. "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" follows, a quiet ballad that is filled with longing and hints of the old time ballad masters like Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon. Gentle guitar and cymbals shadow the saxophone, weaving into a short feature of their own before the sultry and classy saxophone returns to take things out. Slow moving and fluttering percussion engages with Allen's saxophone on "Why Was I Born," easing into a beautiful tone that is classical and enduring. Ellman's layered guitar and the soft percussion keep the music easing forward. "You're My Thrill" has long tones of saxophone accentuated by slight guitar chords that gives the music a lonely and heartbroken late night sound. The bass and ghostly brushes keep the music even more atmospheric. Allen caresses the melody with gentle drumming echo through "Come All Ye and Tender Ladies" as bare cymbal taps and shy guitar filter through the scene, adding each note with the utmost precision. "Put on a Happy Face" is guided through its paces in a kind and tender manner, engaging with the song with flurries or saxophone developing from the theme of the song, leaving room for a light guitar and percussion interlude, adding bright chords and notes to the proceedings. Lighter toned saxophone moved through the melody of "Prisoner of Love" with guitar and bass rolling like a gentle fog, as quick filigrees of saxophone keeps everyone on their toes. The languid melody of "Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You) drifts in a classy and unhurried manner over the lightly feathered rhythm section, leading into to concluding "Gone With the Wind" where the soft air wafts over the music with a relaxed gait as guitar chords arc over the fading sound. Love Stone -

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