Dave Allen: Real And Imagined (2008)
With Real And Imagined, guitarist Dave Allen has solidified a style that was first presented with his debut album, Untold Stories (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005).
This is music that is very hip. Pulsating rhythms, odd meters and phrase lengths, and subtly shifting harmonies are played with a cool guitar tone that belies the driving, unpredictable lines. Allen's effortless technique downplays the apparent complexity, paradoxically creating a cool surface sheen that has a white heat glowing beneath it.
The band is mostly intact from Untold Stories, knows what Allen's music is about and consistently delivers. Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, who played on five on the nine tracks on the previous record, is now fully integrated into the music and provides a prism through which we hear Allen's melodies and lines from a differing angle. Bassist Drew Gress, a strong, and edgier, composer and band leader in his own right (see Irrational Numbers (Premonition, 2007)), replaces Carlo DeRosa and adds some low-register heat of his own. The ubiquitous drummer Mark Ferber returns, easily handling everything Allen throws at him, pushing the band with a deft touch.
Allen has found a true voice, and his music is now recognizable. While not residing in the avant-garde, it is not mainstream either. Although the music is readily accessible, Allen's melodies and arrangements are not simplistic and continually tug at the edges of the mind, pulling it this way and that, without ever losing balance.
The music's sensitivity does not overwhelm its drive and energy, but rather gives it the sense of controlled passion which is the source of the heat that is felt throughout.
The yin and yang of Real And Imagined, epitomized by the title tune and the closing burner "Untold Stories," demonstrates the tension that is felt within an atmosphere of balance and control. The complexity that is pulled off with such ease combines to produce music that seduces both the body and mindagain and again.
Track Listing: Slipping Glimpser; Always Beginning; Musing; Mantra; Real and Imagined; Intimate intricate Distance; Perpetuum Mobile; Playground (Part 1); Untold Story.
Personnel: Dave Allen: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Mark Ferber: drums; Drew Gress: bass.