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JD Allen: Barracoon

Read "Barracoon" reviewed by Mackenzie Horne

To describe JD Allen's Barracoon as a great record would give a false impression—though it is in fact a fantastic record. It would be demeaning to only refer to the piece as a great exemplar of post-bop production. This record is more important than that; not only is it significant in terms of Allen's artistic development, but the project also contributes to a larger historical framework. Barracoon frames Allen as a leader, a storyteller, and a historian. ...

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JD Allen: Love Stone

Read "Love Stone" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Beneath this tough tenor's exterior rests the most tender of spirits. If you need evidence, just spend some time with Love Stone. After carving out his rightful place at the apex with a series of brilliant piano-less trio outings focused on pithy originals, saxophonist JD Allen recently felt the winds of change in his horn and his habits. He reached a conclusion that originality may sit not in the song's architect but in its possessor, and he ...

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JD Allen: Americana

Read "Americana" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

JD Allen is an artist who always delivers. He is also an artist who takes risks, willing to explore his limitations, and then break them; to expose his vulnerabilities, and reflect upon their source and meaning. His experimentation is not obvious. It spirals inwards, orbiting the central axis of jazz, while traversing its various trajectories with elegance, depth, and intense regard to produce deeply personal statements that draw in audiences and listeners like moths to flame. His latest ...

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J.D. Allen: Victory!

Read "Victory!" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Many artists seem to move rapidly through different ensemble configurations, as if they're trying to finish off a career to-do list. While it's true that artistic reinvention using various instrumental formats--whether it be an organ group, big band project or Jazz Messengers-style outing--can help an artist gain notice in the trade magazines, using these formats as quick pit stops along the press trail can make for a shallow career that lacks in artistic depth. When an exceptional artist is willing ...

LIVE REVIEWS

JD Allen Trio at Bohemian Caverns, February 27, 2010

Read "JD Allen Trio at Bohemian Caverns, February 27, 2010" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

J.D. Allen Trio Bohemian Caverns Washington, DC February 27, 2010Saxophonist JD Allen's music is an outgrowth of the mystical and transcendental experimentation key jazz musicians undertook in the sixties and seventies. However, unlike many contemporary performers who explore this tradition as a stylistic choice, perhaps driven by admiration for Coltrane's sound, Allen's exploration of this style is founded in his personal experience, musical direction, and deep spiritual sense.

“When I am ...

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J.D. Allen: Shine!

Read "Shine!" reviewed by Wilbur MacKenzie

Shine! is the second Sunnyside release by saxophonist JD Allen and his trio with bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston. A Detroit native, Allen has been based in New York for quite a few years now, working with bassist Ron Carter, saxophonist David Murray, trumpeter Lester Bowie and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Cindy Blackman. Allen's assertive tone and the openness of his orchestration maintain a distinct, focused directionality on each track. “Son House," “Marco Polo" and ...

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J.D. Allen Trio: Shine

Read "Shine" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

The unfettered joy of listening to J.D. Allen's Shine comes from being reunited with the blues and spiritualism of modern Afro-American saxophone music. This kind of feeling and emotion all but died with John Coltrane. Arguably only a handful of players such as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and, perhaps, Dewey Redman kept those flames alive. And then there is that thing that tenor saxophonists do with their horns, namely to create an imaginary being--the saxophonist's alter ego, his personality--literally from ...

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J. D. Allen Trio: Shine

Read "Shine" reviewed by Mark Corroto

It's impossible to be an impostor at the gambit in which J.D. Allen's trio is participating. His jukebox length compositions either hit or have the possibility to miss badly.

Luckily, he has released a second trio album of all bull's-eyes.

Shine! follows the pattern established on I AM I AM (Sunnyside, 2008). Allen writes, and his trio performs short-ish, three, four, and five minute compositions that are the musical equivalent of the two-minute drill in football, ...

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JD Allen Trio: I AM I AM

Read "I AM I AM" reviewed by Mark F. Turner

Playing from the heart, creating and improvising from within, jazz music's mantra continues to espouse that “honesty is the best policy." This is heard and felt when listening to saxophonist J.D. Allen's I Am I Am. In an insightful and inspirational interview, the artist gives light to what makes his music forthcoming and real. Allen's been around for a bit. This is his second recording as a leader, following Pharoah's Children (Criss Cross, 2002). Gaining momentum as a ...

INTERVIEWS

JD Allen: Notes of Change

Read "JD Allen: Notes of Change" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Volant solos, melodic tapestries, mournful cadences, orphic rhythms. J.D. Allen's extraordinary I AM-I AM (Sunnyside, 2008) sculpts an aural monument to transformation, a musical testament to the power of the mind to overcome itself through introspective endeavor. Each of its ten compositions roils with the intensity and exposition of a soul wrestling with its two halves, seeking resolution and enveloping the listener in an experience composed equally of musical mastery, intellect, and spiritual renewal. More than a ...

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JD Allen Trio: I AM I AM

Read "I AM  I AM" reviewed by Laurel Gross

JD Allen can be a powerhouse, hard-driving tenor, but he is also capable of great subtlety and versatility. All three qualities are amply in evidence on I AM I AM, and were also front and center in a performance of his piano-less trio in March, 2008 at New York's Jazz Standard to mark the release of the recording. Allen has picked his partners wisely. Bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston are canny interpreters of the ten ...

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JD Allen Trio: I AM I AM

Read "I AM I AM" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Face it, if you play the tenor saxophone you're going to have to deal with the legacy of John Coltrane's sound. You can hear it in the playing of Branford Marsalis, Pharoah Sanders, and even Sonny Rollins. It is believed that Rollins was so influenced by Trane, that his style was forever changed in the 1960s. But we'll leave that argument to scholars. On I Am I Am the thirty-something JD Allen takes on the Coltrane legacy and leaves us ...


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