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Allen Hoist: Just Before Spring

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This CD is absolutely astonishing.

I have amassed a pretty awesome jazz collection over the past 25 years, and I get all sorts of CDs to review, but it’s rare that I hear a new CD that just blows me away as much as this one has. Allen Hoist, a virtual unknown on the U.S. music scene but a major player in Paris, is quite simply one of the most outrageously talented musicians I’ve heard in a long time. And he puts the talent to very good use with a good choice of material.

First of all, he’s a singer. On some cuts, including the first two and “Mom’s Song,” he not only sings the lead, but backs himself with a Take 6-like chorus of multi-tracked chordal punctuations. If you’ve heard fellow Parisian Marc Beacco, Hoist is similar. His lead voice on several of the vocal numbers is heavily soul/R&B influenced, but the middle solo sections are straight-ahead jazz. And he can scat with the best – check out his rendition of Caravan, backed only by vocals and hand percussion.

He’s also an alto and soprano saxophonist. He can execute rapid bebop solos on straight-ahead swingers like “Rue Manin” and play sensitive, as on the mid-tempo “Billy H.” (for Billy Harper).

He also plays an instrument rarely featured in jazz circles – the cello. On “*Ty* Dyed,” Hoist states the melody in parallel with the piano, then after a nice piano solo, he launches into a driving jazz cello solo. Another vehicle he chooses for his cello is Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring.” He navigates the melody with aplomb, then throws out an endless stream of ideas on those classic changes.

His band is quite accomplished, too. Bassist Etienne Mbappe is awe-inspiring with his fleet fingers and skillful solos, such as on “Billy H.” Interestingly, he plays with gloves on.

Okay, now take a break from All About Jazz long enough to go to your favorite music store (online or physical) and get this CD! Do it now. We’ll be here when you get back. Then get ready to be blown away. (Iris Musique 3001 829)


Track Listing: All I Do; Just Before Spring; Rue Manin; Caravan; One for the Road; *Ty* Dyed; Mom

Personnel: Allen Hoist

Title: Just Before Spring | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Iris Musique


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