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Ben Allison: Cowboy Justice

Jim Santella By

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Ben Allison's modern jazz quartet brings a fresh spirit to his latest project with sensual impressions that relate to the world around us. For his original compositions, the bassist has borrowed from the nightly news, world affairs, social ills and reflections on the way things are around us. The result is a varied soundscape of lovely melodies filled with spontaneity and charm.

Trumpeter Ron Horton expresses with heartfelt emotion. His natural tone and passionate demeanor bring his message direct from the soul. Guitarist Steve Cardenas adds a lyrical flavor that colors the session with contemporary coolness, while drummer Jeff Ballard strikes a hip bargain that simmers gently underneath. Allison's big bass not only drives the quartet with majesty, but also provides a memorable jazz solo. He drives those strings right into our senses with a comfortable ease.

The quartet interprets Midnight Cowboy, the only part of the program that didn't originate from compositional seeds planted in Allison's mind, with a loving touch that recalls the original film score. Each of the four artists attaches something lyrical and goes with the flow.

Two "Tricky pieces allow room for the quartet to stretch out in dramatic directions. "Emergency combines traditional Spanish impressions with the blues. "Blabbermouth rides a fresh wave of rhythmic celebration, while "Weazy waffles languorously in a generous display of country pride. Cowboy Justice, with its many colors and personal sense of adventure, comes highly recommended.


Track Listing: Tricky Dick; Talking Heads; Hey Man; Emergency; Midnight Cowboy; Tricky Rides Again; Weazy; Ruby's Roundabout; Blabbermouth.

Personnel: Ben Allison: bass, acoustic guitar; Ron Horton: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steve Cardenas: electric and acoustic guitar; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Title: Cowboy Justice | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Palmetto Records


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