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Young Harry Allen, a rising star among swing–based tenor saxophonists, is heard here in the company of a world–class rhythm section that helps him breeze confidently through a nearly eighty–minute–long concert consisting for the most part of well–known songs from the Golden Age of American popular music. Although Allen is no one’s clone, I am struck by how often his wailing sound and informed manner of expression remind me of the late Stan Getz, of all people. This is especially true at faster tempos and in the higher register, where he comes as close to mimicing Stan as anyone I’ve heard — not that he is doing so on purpose; for all I know, Allen may not even be aware of the resemblance, but it’s nonetheless there. In the lower register, the New York–born Allen’s full–bodied tenor more closely parallels those of Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski or other contemporary swing–era advocates. Thanks to his awesome technique and endless flow of fresh ideas, Allen is perfectly comfortable in any tempo, as are his enterprising colleagues (listen as they let it all hang out on Count Basie’s barn–burner, “The King”). The veteran Bunch is a paragon of swinging and tasteful lyricism, while Irwin and Jackson know precisely the proper support to furnish in any situation (Jackson, the son of bassist Chubby, is equally dazzling with brushes or sticks in hand). As for the music, well, one could hardly wander far astray reprising such time–honored classics as “Close Your Eyes,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “This Time the Dream’s on Me” or “Limehouse Blues.” Aside from offering well–deserved applause after solos and at the end of each number, the audience is quiet as a company of church mice. This is a luminous concert session, and while I’m perfectly aware that musical tastes vary widely, I’d recommend it to anyone.
Track listing: ’Deed I Do; Close Your Eyes; But Beautiful; The King; Did You Call Here Today; Honeysuckle Rose; This Time the Dream’s on Me; My Heart Stood Still; Every Day I Have the Blues; Limehouse Blues (79:03).
Harry Allen, tenor sax; John Bunch, piano; Dennis Irwin, bass; Duffy Jackson, drums.