Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

361

Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run The World

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
On his eighth album, Little Things Run The World, bassist/composer Ben Allison delves further into the cinematic Americana explored on his previous release, Cowboy Justice (Palmetto, 2007). Inspired by a quote from biodiversity expert E.O. Wilson, the album features a selection of multi-layered tunes that rely on structural interdependency as much as the social organisms Wilson studied.

Naming the ensemble Man Size Safe, after a news item about the ominous item located in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, Allison expresses his dissatisfaction with the current political climate through titling—similar to a previous era's socially active jazz bassist, Charles Mingus. Like his conceptual forefather, Allison transposes his frustration with current events into emotionally complex works of great beauty.

Allison's facility for conjuring lush soundscapes from a limited instrumental palette places him in a rarefied league. Bittersweet melodies, rich contrapuntal harmonies and syncopated cross-rhythms all coalesce under the banner of jazz improvisation. An unclassifiable sound, Allison offers a buoyantly optimistic view of American music informed by non-Western traditions.

Augmenting the former album's instrumental line-up with a guest appearance from saxophonist Michael Blake, Allison is rejoined by trumpeter Ron Horton and guitarist Steve Cardenas, with drummer Michael Sarin replacing Jeff Ballard. Seamlessly integrated into his acoustic writing, Allison's recent foray into the electro-acoustic world reveals an organic mastery over pop song structures and timbres.

Allison's embrace of rock and pop devices is more dominant than before, courtesy (in part) of guitarist Steve Cardenas. "Respiration" and "Man Size Safe" feature concise but searing guitar solos, with Cardenas releasing a fractured, churning salvo on the former, burning with surgical focus on the later. Offering a variety of tonal colors beyond brittle distortion, he unfurls kaleidoscopic textures on the jaunty Afro-pop of "Four Folk Songs" and paints with a shimmering Spanish patina on "Roll Credits."

Ron Horton, the ensemble's key voice, contributes a multitude of expressions, ranging from mellifluous tenderness on Cardenas' Frisellian "Language Of Love" to blustery pyrotechnics on the punchy "Man Size Safe." Guest saxophonist Michael Blake delivers an architecturally robust tenor solo on the title track, and switching to soprano on "Blowback," dovetailing seamlessly with Horton as they spiral through a dreamy, melancholy vamp of escalating drama.

One of today's most creative drummers, Mike Sarin's long-established rapport with Allison enables their graceful navigation of the stop-start rhythms, unusual time signatures and intricate syncopation of these elaborate tunes.

From their bluesy interpretation of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" and the lilting euphony of "Roll Credits" to the anthemic swell of the title track, Man Size Safe demonstrates how beautiful sanguinity can be derived from dark source material. Accessible and adventurous, Little Things Run The World offers the sound of hope in a world that needs all it can get.

Track Listing: Respiration; Little Things Run The World; Four Folk Songs; Language Of Love; Roll Credits; Blowback; Jealous Guy; Man Size Safe.

Personnel: Ben Allison: bass, acoustic guitar; Ron Horton: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steve Cardenas: electric guitar; Michael Sarin: drums; Michael Blake: tenor saxophone (2, 8), soprano saxophone (6).

Title: Little Things Run The World | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

D.A.V.E.

D.A.V.E.

Ben Allison
The Stars Look Very Different...

Catching Up With
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Layers of the City

Layers of the City

Sonic Camera Records
2017

buy
Quiet Revolution

Quiet Revolution

Newvelle Records
2016

buy
The Stars Look Very Different Today

The Stars Look Very...

Sonic Camera Records
2014

buy
Action-Refraction

Action-Refraction

Palmetto Records
2011

buy
Think Free

Think Free

Palmetto Records
2010

buy
Date Detail Price
Feb20Wed
20:00
Ben Allison
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
$18

Related Articles

Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Cuarteto Europa CD/LP/Track Review
Cuarteto Europa
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections CD/LP/Track Review
Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Intelsat CD/LP/Track Review
Intelsat
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2018
Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read "Jubilation!" CD/LP/Track Review Jubilation!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 25, 2018
Read "More Songs About Error And Shame" CD/LP/Track Review More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "There And Here" CD/LP/Track Review There And Here
by Anya Wassenberg
Published: July 26, 2018
Read "Basement Sessions Vol. 4 (The Bali Tapes)" CD/LP/Track Review Basement Sessions Vol. 4 (The Bali Tapes)
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 28, 2018
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by John Sharpe
Published: May 4, 2018
Read "Change In The Air" CD/LP/Track Review Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018