332

Steve Allee Trio: Colors

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Allee Trio: Colors Steve Allee's biggest claim to fame is his collaborative big band album with reedman Chuck Carter and drummer John Von Ohlen, Downtown Blues (Sea Breeze, 1999), which garnered a Grammy Award nomination. Still, while he's far from a household name, the west coast-based pianist has been working in the trenches, scoring for film and television, and working with artists ranging from James Moody and Slide Hampton to Randy Brecker and Tim Hagans. Colors is his third release as a leader and the first to feature an all acoustic piano trio. It's an energetic and diverse set of largely original material, with a couple of standards thrown in for good measure.



Allee and his trio—bassist Bill Moring and drummer Tim Horner—sit comfortably in the mainstream, although the pianist demonstrates a slightly left-of-center harmonic approach that, at times, resembles New York-based pianist Marc Copland, only more direct and less abstractly impressionistic. "Bubbles is a good example of how Allee utilizes slightly skewed harmonies but with a more definitive lyricism and a straightforward sense of swing. He's an economical but inventive soloist who, rather than being strictly supported by Moring and Horner, works in a three-way conversation with them throughout the record, and it's the trio's communal interplay that creates some of Colors' most magical moments.



"Fishes is another Allee composition that's skewed just a tad from the mainstream. As unequivocally contemporary as this trio is harmonically and interactively, there's an exuberant forward motion that keeps things accessible throughout. Moring's bass solo is vibrant, and the trade-off between Allee and Moring towards the end of the tune is a wonderful mix of energy and restraint. "Changes, on the other hand, is a dark ballad, with Allee's delicate touch supported by equal elegance from Moring and Horner, even as it gradually builds dynamically to an unexpected climax before returning to the sparer head.



It's the trio's ability to shape the material with a focused sense of clarity and development that elevates Allee's already appealing writing to even greater allure. Even when the trio stretches out, as it does on the nearly nine-minute " Lucaya, there's never a sense of excess or self-indulgence. And while there's no mistaking the two standards—Kern/Harbach's "Yesterdays and a curiously stop-start but still swinging take on the Mercer/Arlen classic, "Come Rain or Come Shine —there's enough personality here to keep them fresh and relevant.



Music performed this selflessly runs the risk of being overlooked, but that would be a mistake. Mainstream it may be, but Colors is a thoroughly engaging record that's grounded enough to appeal to traditionalists while, if not exactly cutting edge, possessing enough modernity to resonate with those looking for more than mere retreads of past conventions.

Track Listing: Bubbles; Yesterdays; Fishes; Changes; Lucaya; Colors; Come Rain or Come Shine; Tree Stories; Peepers; Pure Spirit.

Personnel: Steve Allee: piano; Bill Moring: bass; Tim Horner: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Eastern Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Eastern Smiles
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Beguiled" CD/LP/Track Review Beguiled
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Sunday Night At The Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Night At The Vanguard
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2016
Read "Right Where I Need to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Right Where I Need to Be
by Jim Olin
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Uncharted Waters" CD/LP/Track Review Uncharted Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!