Every new musical expedition undertaken by tenor saxophonist JD Allen serves to solidify his reputation as one of the finest, most adventurous young musicians playing today. Victory!--a superb collection of short works--is no exception. With a gently swinging, ponderous vibrato he weaves his way into territory that he has charted for himself. The rebellious yell of his voice finds fortuitous echo in the elemental sadness of the blues, the solemnity of gospel and ultimately in the joyful recapitulation of life itself. Allen plays in phrases and musical sentences that are moist and somewhat short, but always interconnected in a Hemingway-like ...read more
Many artists seem to move rapidly through different ensemble configurations, as if they're trying to finish off a career to-do list. While it's true that artistic reinvention using various instrumental formats--whether it be an organ group, big band project or Jazz Messengers-style outing--can help an artist gain notice in the trade magazines, using these formats as quick pit stops along the press trail can make for a shallow career that lacks in artistic depth. When an exceptional artist is willing to take the time to fully explore a specific format, like the saxophone-bass-drums trio, and develop an ensemble identity, it's ...read more
J.D. Allen Trio Bohemian Caverns Washington, DC February 27, 2010Saxophonist JD Allen's music is an outgrowth of the mystical and transcendental experimentation key jazz musicians undertook in the sixties and seventies. However, unlike many contemporary performers who explore this tradition as a stylistic choice, perhaps driven by admiration for Coltrane's sound, Allen's exploration of this style is founded in his personal experience, musical direction, and deep spiritual sense.
When I am on the stage I am not actually thinking [about God]. But in the preparation, that is something I consider," stated ...read more
Shine! is the second Sunnyside release by saxophonist JD Allen and his trio with bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston. A Detroit native, Allen has been based in New York for quite a few years now, working with bassist Ron Carter, saxophonist David Murray, trumpeter Lester Bowie and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Cindy Blackman. Allen's assertive tone and the openness of his orchestration maintain a distinct, focused directionality on each track. Son House," Marco Polo" and Variation" call to mind the entire tradition of sax/bass/drums trios, from Sonny Rollins to Steve Lacy to David Murray. The ...read more
The unfettered joy of listening to J.D. Allen's Shine comes from being reunited with the blues and spiritualism of modern Afro-American saxophone music. This kind of feeling and emotion all but died with John Coltrane. Arguably only a handful of players such as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and, perhaps, Dewey Redman kept those flames alive. And then there is that thing that tenor saxophonists do with their horns, namely to create an imaginary being--the saxophonist's alter ego, his personality--literally from mouthfuls of air. Allen's is one that is wise beyond his years. It seems that through the wind of his ...read more
It's impossible to be an impostor at the gambit in which J.D. Allen's trio is participating. His jukebox length compositions either hit or have the possibility to miss badly.
Luckily, he has released a second trio album of all bull's-eyes.
Shine! follows the pattern established on I AM I AM (Sunnyside, 2008). Allen writes, and his trio performs short-ish, three, four, and five minute compositions that are the musical equivalent of the two-minute drill in football, maybe even sudden death.
But maybe this has gone too far.
His concept is to hit ...read more
Playing from the heart, creating and improvising from within, jazz music's mantra continues to espouse that honesty is the best policy." This is heard and felt when listening to saxophonist J.D. Allen's I Am I Am. In an insightful and inspirational interview, the artist gives light to what makes his music forthcoming and real. Allen's been around for a bit. This is his second recording as a leader, following Pharoah's Children (Criss Cross, 2002). Gaining momentum as a leading voice, he's been heard on Gerald Cleaver's Detroit (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008) Cindy Blackman's Music For The New ...read more