Duane Allen: Yin-Yang (2004)

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How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Guitarist Duane Allen opens Yin-Yang with that time-tested standard, Cole Porter's "Night and Day," sounding very traditional in the beginning, with a nice Wes Montgomery-like sting on his notes. Nice enough, and it had me fooled for a minute, thinking we were going into ho-hum territory; but things really get interesting when the band veers away from the straight melody with an inventive and extended variation-on-the-theme interlude. Spirited playing, aided by bassist John Crooks and drummer Joe Schleicter. Allen's approach has a smooth flow and consistent shimmer; and Schleicher's bump-and-shuffle percussion—he reminds me of Henry Wirht, of the Either Orchestra—serves as a perfect punctuating counterpoint for the guitarist's sound.

The feeling of the set is boppish on Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile," and rock-like on—this listener's highlight—Allen's original song "Space Station," where his guitar sound goes nicely crunchy, with ominous undertones. The title tune, another Allen original, has a bittersweet feel, on acoustic guitar.

Allen also includes two late-sixties rock songs, the Doors' "Crystal Ships" and the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," fitting them nicely into the jazz atmosphere.

An interesting new guitarist, leading an in-synch group that really cooks.

Visit Duane Allen at www.goldbergallen.com .

Track Listing: Night and Day; Dark Time; Crystal Ship; Yin-Yang; Black Nile; Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown); Indigo; Space Station; Beautiful Sadness

Personnel: Duane Allen - guitar; John Crooks - bass; Joe Schleicher - drums

Record Label: Tritone Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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