How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Bradley Allen, like many, got his start in jazz as a member of a Service band. For him, it was a seven-year stint in the U. S. Army Band. Working in a small group context, Allen has released his second self-produced album. One difference from the first album is that the sax is dropped while another guitar is added to join Tom DeMasters. Also, Allen sings in a pleasant, unassuming manner on several cuts. The interplay between DeMasters on electric guitar coming from one speaker, and Rod Freeman on acoustic guitar coming from the other, is a delight. Joined by bassist Craig Akin, they turn "Bye Bye Blackbird" into a sonata for three stringed instruments. Also unlike the first album, Allen expands the play list to include some rock pieces, both by Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. On the former, DeMasters guitar appropriately moves from clean single stroking to smeary. It turns out that the Lennon/McCartney "Norwegian Wood" with Allen doing a vocal is one of the premier tracks on the CD. The other Beatle tune comes across closer to country than rock, which is fine. Avoiding the temptation to dominate with long drum solos, Allen plays with a sense of subtlety working in support as his cohorts take the solos.
The sense of ease and comfort on this album is usually found on live rather than studio recordings. This is nowhere more apparent than on "Lullaby of Birdland" where considerable liberties are taken with the melody line, to good effect. Good stuff all around. Recommended.
Track Listing: Meet the Flintstones; Ain't Misbehavin'; Island Oasis; Bye Bye Blackbird; Lullaby of Birdland; The Supermarket Stomp; My Favorite Things; Shades of Blue; Norwegian Wood; I Saw Her Standing There
Personnel: Bradley Allen - Drums/Leader/Vocals; Rod Freeman - Acoustic Guitar; Tom DeMasters - Electric Guitar; Craig Akin - Bass/Fretless Bass