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

Edward Blanco By

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The legendary Four Brothers reed section of Woody Herman's famous "Second Herd" big band of 1947, (Herbie Steward, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff) is reimagined and reinvigorated by jazz icons Harry Allen, Eric Alexander, Grant Stewart and Gary Smulyan on the exciting, swinging and audacious recording of The Candy Men by Harry Allen's All Star New York Saxophone Band. Offering a sensational set of twelve bop-infused tunes containing some hard-driving, mid-tempo swing pieces to breathy and bossa-styled ballads, one sampling of this disc is just not enough. The material and the musicianship is so outstanding, that the late, great bandleader Woody Herman himself, would be proud of the way this group of jazz icons, has so elegantly represented the original Brothers section.

Three tenors and one baritone saxophone produce a powerful sound especially when joining forces to harmonize melodies as so often demonstrated here. The foursome is accompanied by Rossano Sportiello on piano, Joel Forbes on bass and Kevin Kanner on the drums—all forming one vibrant septet that shine on every note. The music opens up in swinging fashion on Jimmy Giuffre's "Four Brothers" tribute piece using Al Cohn's arrangement of the classic which bring out each sax man's distinctive voice. The tenor men take on a slinky, mid-tempo swinger on Allen's "The One for You" featuring a burning solo from Smulyan followed by a little tenor madness from Allen and the others.

While there's a lot of swing on this album, Allen and crew do present a softer side with such warm ballads as the brief "How are Things in Glocca Morra?," Dorothy Parker's "I Wished On the Moon," the Rodgers and Hart classic "Nobody's Heart" and the delicate bossa-tinged "I Can See Forever," one of the show pieces of the recording. But, of course, the group gets back to the meat of the set on the Gerry Mulligan / Zoot Sims composition "Red Door" where the group lets it all hang out on one torrid power play after another featuring the tenors and Smulyan sounding off in dynamic style.

Offering the inspiration for the title of the album, the Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley pop standard "The Candy Man," best remembered as a 1972 hit by Sammy Davis Jr., takes on an Allen arrangement that highlights the leader on the main solo. Rounding out the music, is a lively, up tempo swinger "So There," an Allen original penned for a previous recording perfect for a saxophone summit, followed by the appropriately titled, "The Party's Over" as the finale piece.

Leader Harry Allen and the rest of the high-powered reed section featured on The Candy Men, capture well the magic of the original Four Brothers section and set themselves apart by providing a few tricks of their own that make their sound, distinctive and mesmerizing.

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

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