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J.D. Allen Trio: Shine (2009)

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J.D. Allen Trio: Shine 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
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
. Arguably only a handful of players such as Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
b.1940
saxophone
, Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
b.1937
saxophone
and, perhaps, Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman
b.1931
sax, tenor
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 horn, twisted human history flows. That is why the music here may sound sometimes hoarse and full of brimstone and fire.

Many "damn yous" are woven into Allen's staccato phrases that run up and down the octaves of the tenor. For instance, there is a wild, almost primeval ring in the romp that profiles "Esre." "Sonhouse" is a masterful minor harmonic sketch in praise of the legendary Son House
Son House
Son House
1902 - 1988
guitar, slide
. Bassist, Gregg August holds sway with exquisite pedal point and some growling ostinato passages and that really heats up the song just prior to the penultimate chorus. Sometimes Allen senses abstractions of Pythagorean proportions. On "Conjuration of Angles," he pokes and prods drummer Rudy Royston, who rolls and rumbles with the changes picking up pace as Allen is joined by August to navigate the rest of the way through the song, before returning to the tantalizing theme.

"Marco Polo," another quick sketch can be menacing at times reflecting the man and his colonial discoveries. But past the opening theme, the music quickly opens up in harmonics and rhythmic intensity much like Trane's "Giant Steps." And then there's the title song, an elementally sad, but beautiful eulogy in praise of the heart of Allen's "blackness." And this is really what sets Allen apart from any tenor man today, including Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
. It is never possible to capture an essential characteristic, but if it were, it would be total sincerity—a kind of brutal honesty that is almost too painful to bear; too painful even to hear sometimes.

This is what can sometimes lead to what Don Cherry
Don Cherry
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
trumpet
once called "total communion." This is not to be confused with the musical one, but is actually a state of mind that arises out of music. In all ancient societies this state of being is attained. Among the griots of ancient Morocco, for instance. The Yoruba people have been there too, as the music of Babatunde Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji
b.1927
drums
will testify. The Cubans arrive there with their Santeria rituals. And now with J.D. Allen, especially in the ecstatic "Se'lah," a modern psalm of unbridled praise.

In the liner notes to Shine, there is an attempt to define the raison d'être of the record. Worshipful praise of music as a joyous expression of absolute freedom ought to be considered for this Afro-American masterpiece.


Track Listing: Esre; Sonhouse; Conjuration of Angles; Marco Polo; Shine; The Laughing bell; East Boogie (Kolby

Personnel: J.D. Allen: tenor saxophone; Gregg August: bass; Rudy Royston: drums.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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