Bradley Allen, like many, got his start in jazz as a member of a Service band. For him, it was a seven-year stint in the U. S. Army Band. Working in a small group context, Allen has released his second self-produced album. One difference from the first album is that the sax is dropped while another guitar is added to join Tom DeMasters. Also, Allen sings in a pleasant, unassuming manner on several cuts. The interplay between DeMasters on electric guitar coming from one speaker, and Rod Freeman on acoustic guitar coming from the other, is a delight. Joined by bassist Craig Akin, they turn "Bye Bye Blackbird" into a sonata for three stringed instruments. Also unlike the first album, Allen expands the play list to include some rock pieces, both by Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. On the former, DeMasters guitar appropriately moves from clean single stroking to smeary. It turns out that the Lennon/McCartney "Norwegian Wood" with Allen doing a vocal is one of the premier tracks on the CD. The other Beatle tune comes across closer to country than rock, which is fine. Avoiding the temptation to dominate with long drum solos, Allen plays with a sense of subtlety working in support as his cohorts take the solos.
The sense of ease and comfort on this album is usually found on live rather than studio recordings. This is nowhere more apparent than on "Lullaby of Birdland" where considerable liberties are taken with the melody line, to good effect. Good stuff all around. Recommended.
Track Listing: Meet the Flintstones; Ain't Misbehavin'; Island Oasis; Bye Bye Blackbird; Lullaby of Birdland; The Supermarket Stomp; My Favorite Things; Shades of Blue; Norwegian Wood; I Saw Her Standing There
Personnel: Bradley Allen -Drums/Leader/Vocals; Rod Freeman -Acoustic Guitar; Tom DeMasters -Electric Guitar; Craig Akin -Bass/Fretless Bass
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.