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Bass Is the Place!

Read "Bass Is the Place!" reviewed by Jennifer DeMeritt

Where do rhythm and harmony intersect? Where do you feel the beat, not just with your ears but your whole body? Bass is the place where it all comes together. This week we celebrate some beloved jazz bass players, from riveting soloists to groundbreaking composers and consummate sidemen. Ben Allison “Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00 Jaco Pastorius “Donna Lee" from Jaco Pastorius (Epic) 0:07 Host talks 2:44 Charles Mingus “Haitian Fight Song" ...

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Ben Allison: Between Groove and Melody

Read "Ben Allison: Between Groove and Melody" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Bassist, bandleader, educator and composer, Ben Allison is one of the leading players of the world stage. During the past twenty years he has released twelve records and led various bands, performed on more than thirty albums, co-founded The Jazz Composers Collective, and served as its Artistic Director until its dissolution in 2005. In this conversation, Allison speaks about his album (Layers of The City, Sonic Camera Records 2017), his personal style, the birth of his own label, his long ...

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Ben Allison: The Stars Look Very Different Today

Read "The Stars Look Very Different Today" reviewed by Troy Collins

Conservatory-educated jazz musicians often follow a similar developmental path as they mature, typically expanding the relatively narrow focus of their academic training to reexamine the non-jazz related music styles that initially inspired them. Take the young lions of the pre-millennial era for example; most have extended their purview beyond straight-ahead hard bop to incorporate aspects of the funk, r&b and soul music they grew up with. The same paradigm exists for their avant-garde counterparts, whose demographic is generally raised on ...

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Ben Allison: Think Free

Read "Think Free" reviewed by Troy Collins

Gradually moving away from the chamber music-like aesthetic of his Medicine Wheel and Peace Pipe ensembles of the nineties, bassist Ben Allison has begun embracing his formative influences, leaning towards a slightly more rock-oriented sound. Think Free is his third Palmetto album in as many years, thematically following Little Things Run the World (2008) and Cowboy Justice (2006). Looking beyond traditional jazz for inspiration, Allison weaves bittersweet pop melodies, folksy Americana, and subtle rock music flourishes into an evocative sonic ...

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

Read "Little Things Run The World" reviewed by Troy Collins

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 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Two Bass Hits: Cowboy Justice and A Fine Balance

Read "Two Bass Hits: Cowboy Justice and A Fine Balance" reviewed by Matthew Miller

Ben Allison Cowboy Justice Palmetto Records 2006 Michael Bates' Outside Sources A Fine Balance Between the Lines 2006 Bands led by bassists are something of a novelty, even today. From the blowing sessions led by Paul Chambers in the 1950s, to Mingus' innovations, and on to modern day masters like Mario Pavone, the gentle ...

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Ben Allison: Medicine Wheel

Read "Medicine Wheel" reviewed by Troy Collins

Bassist Ben Allison was a virtual unknown when this album was originally released by Palmetto in 1998. After Seven Arrows (Koch, 1996), this was Allison's first major release. Combining conservatory training, ethnic/world music fusions, post-bop energy and free-jazz vigor, Allison and company were on the cusp of a new movement. Listening to this recording in retrospect reveals a blueprint for the new breed of jazz improviser. Medicine Wheel is a watershed moment in end of the century East Coast jazz.

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Ben Allison: Cowboy Justice

Read "Cowboy Justice" reviewed by Jim Santella

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 ...

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Ben Allison: Cowboy Justice

Read "Cowboy Justice" reviewed by R. Emmet Sweeney

Cowboy Justice sticks to the basics. Each tune opens with a repeated riff that is then accented by the other instruments, heavy on layered harmonies. Ben Allison is one of the founding members of the non-profit Jazz Composers Collective, a hub for young, forward-thinking talent, and Cowboy Justice has the feel of a workshop the Collective might put on, a testing ground for basic melodic ideas yet to be fully fleshed out.The first tune, “Tricky Dick," begins with ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Ben Allison: Cowboy Justice

Read "Cowboy Justice" reviewed by Troy Collins

From the Jazz Composers Collective to Peace Pipe and Medicine Wheel, bassist/composer Ben Allison has been a force in creative jazz for over a decade. Joined by two Medicine Wheel veterans, drummer Jeff Ballard and trumpeter Ron Horton, Allison also invites adaptable newcomer Steve Cardenas--currently a member of the Paul Motian Band and the first guitarist to play in an Allison group--into the fold. The titular theme seeps through the album, giving it a distinctly American flair. As ...

INTERVIEWS

Ben Allison: Bringing Listeners to the Music

Read "Ben Allison: Bringing Listeners to the Music" reviewed by Joao Moreira dos Santos

Ben Allison is a jazz musician you should keep an eye on. Influenced by Charlie Haden, but with a voice all his own, this year seems to be quite a ride for his career. DownBeat magazine selected him as one of the “25 rising jazz stars for the future," and he also won the prestigious “Bird Award" at the 2005 North Sea Jazz Festival, an honor previously awarded to important artists including Misha Mengelberg, Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins. All ...

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Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison

Read "Frank Kimbrough and Ben Allison" reviewed by Sean Patrick Fitzell

Frank Kimbrough Lullabluebye Palmetto 2004

For more than ten years, pianist Frank Kimbrough and bassist Ben Allison have collaborated on numerous projects of the Jazz Composers Collective and their own. Despite their frequent appearances together, the two have different approaches as composers and leaders.

On Lullabluebye, Kimbrough explores the classic piano trio, infusing it with a modern sensibility and exciting performances from Allison and drummer Matt Wilson. This limited instrumentation, in less capable hands, ...


Ocean Blues

"Ocean Blues" performed by the Dave Wilson Quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café (Philadelphia) on March 29, 2018. From the album One Night At Chris’ (2019) featuring Dave Wilson (saxophone), Dan Monaghan (drums), Tony Marino (bass) and Kirk Reese (piano).

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