How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Dave Allen's sophomore effort provides nine more of his original compositions to absorb and enjoy. Real and Imagined is filled to the brim with music that is an intricate and flowing tapestry of lyricism and cinematic environments. As a guitarist, Allen readily shows he is of the same pedigree as some of his peers (Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Ziesmer, Steve Cardenas) and, like his peers, he has a fully developed and mature approach to composition, technical command of his instrument, and the inspirational fortitude to pull wonderful music from the ensemble he has gathered for this recording.
In a Jazz Guitar Life interview Allen stated that "poetry has been a big influence and a big part of my life. It's what I turn to when I'm not busy with music. The qualities of rhythm, timbre, dynamics, form, and expression are very similar in both poetry and music. Film has always been an obsession of mine. Besides the usual reasons of just loving great cinematic storytelling, there is the rhythm and texture of film-making and editing and it's correlations to music. The paintings of Kandinsky, Dekooning, and many others have been a great inspiration as well. There is a lot of music to be found in their work." This seems to be an excellent description of the musical sensibilities that are manifest in this group of players. These pieces very often tell a story by the way the music flows, whether as an individual solo or as a collective ensemble voice. Each piece is like an aural painting or film in the way it slides across the psyche. Also, there is a dream-like quality to this music, but the compositions are strong vehicles that never lose their stability or solid musical values. This is music expertly played with fervor and verve.
Eight of the pieces are played by the full quartet, while "Intimate Distance" is a trio piece. It seems that this group has spent quite a lot of time playing together and it's obvious that each individual player is committed to bringing these pieces to life with the best they have to offer. Allen's warm guitar tone and Blake's more acidic tenor blend well together, and are distinct, but complimentary to each other. Ferber and Gress are a fluid and dynamic rhythmic team that brings depth and nuance to this music. Everyone is "in it," a fact that comes across pointedly throughout the proceedings.
Real and Imagined is a fine example of modern electric guitar playing and contemporary jazz composition.
Track Listing: Slipping Glimpser; Always Beginning; Musing; Mantra; Real and Imagined; Intimate Distance; Perpetuum Mobile; Playground (Part 1); Untold Story.
Personnel: Dave Allen: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor sax; Mark Ferber: drums; Drew Gress: bass.