Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Harry Allen's All Star New York Saxophone Band: The Candy Men

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
At times, there is something to be said for glancing backward while moving forward, for saluting the past while embracing the present. In 1973, the Carpenters recorded another in a long series of hit songs, "Yesterday Once More," which noted how the past often parallels the present. Sometimes revisiting bygone days is a good thing; at other times, not so much. On his new album The Candy Men, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen delves even further into the murkiness of time to reclaim his "yesterday," modeling the ensemble's "all-star" reed section on the three-tenor-plus-baritone-sax framework made popular by Woody Herman's Second Herd in 1947-48 and generally known in musical circles as the "Four Brothers sound." Is that a good thing? Opinions may vary, but here is one unequivocal "yes" vote.

Allen raises the curtain, appropriately enough, with the iconic "Four Brothers," using not Jimmy Giuffre's classic chart but an arrangement by Al Cohn written for a later album, The Four Brothers . . . Together Again! While the solo order on various tracks isn't disclosed on the jacket or in Marc Myers' otherwise splendid liner notes, the ultra-smooth Allen and baritone Gary Smulyan are rather easy to pinpoint, and while tenors Grant Stewart and Eric Alexander are far closer in phrasing and perception, they too can be separated with due diligence. On "Four Brothers," the order seems to be Stewart, Allen, Alexander and Smulyan, after which everyone trades fours. Allen arranged every other track, starting with his own mid-tempo groover, "The One for You," on which the familiar Four Brothers sound precedes engaging solos by Smulyan, Alexander, Stewart and Allen (in that order; fingers crossed).

There's an "Early Autumn" vibe to the lovely ballad "How Are Things in Glocca Morra," a Bill Holman-inspired ambience to "After You've Gone" (not unlike the high-voltage chart Holman wrote for the Herman Herd in the mid-50s). Pianist Rossano Sportiello and drummer Kevin Kanner take their first solos here, proving that the term "all-star" doesn't apply merely to the saxophones. Indeed, the rhythm section (Sportiello, Kanner, bassist Joel Forbes) is sharp and persuasive throughout. Alexander is especially inspired on "I Wished on the Moon" and another of Allen's originals, the earnestly swinging "Blues in the Morning," which lead to the opulent "I Can See Forever," co-written by Allen and frequent collaborator Judy Carmichael (who also co-authored "The One for You").
And what would a Four Brothers salute be without at least one song by the great Zoot Sims? The gem chosen here is Sims / Gerry Mulligan's "The Red Door," a seductive swinger with solos to match by the reeds and Sportiello. There's more of the same on "The Candy Man" (a huge hit for Sammy Davis Jr. back in the day), Allen's breezy, Cohn-like "So There," Rodgers and Hart's plaintive "Nobody's Heart (Belongs to Me)" and the gently loping finale, "The Party's Over," introduced by the incomparable Judy Holliday in the Broadway smash Bells Are Ringing. While the reason for its title isn't laid bare, there's no doubt that The Candy Men is one sweet album from start to finish. As for the designation "all-star," one's customary reaction is to reach for the nearest grain of salt. No need for that here, as Allen's all-stars more than warrant the name. An appetizing banquet for lovers of jazz in its past and present tense.

Track Listing: Four Brothers; The One For You; How Are Things in Glocca Morra?; After You've Gone; I Wished On the Moon; Blues in the Morning; I Can See Forever; The Red Door; The Candy Man; So There; Nobody's Heart; The Party's Over.

Personnel: Harry Allen: tenor saxophone; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Grant Stewart: tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Rossano Sportiello: piano; Joel Forbes: bass; Kevin Kanner: drums.

Title: The Candy Men | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Arbor Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Brass Mask Live" CD/LP/Track Review Brass Mask Live
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Mississippi Slide!" CD/LP/Track Review Mississippi Slide!
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)" CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Long Time Gone/To Beat Or Not To Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Long Time Gone/To Beat Or Not To Beat
by Doug Collette
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Here Today" CD/LP/Track Review Here Today
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 26, 2017