July/August 2007

Alvin Queen
I Ain’t Looking at You
Enja/Justin Time

Drummer Alvin Queen leads his quintet through all manner of song on his new album, I Ain’t Looking at You, touching upon bebop, hard-bop, soul-jazz, 12-bar blues and balladry. The musicians—including trumpeter Terell Stafford, alto saxophonist Jesse Davis, organist Mike LeDonne and guitarist Peter Bernstein—mesh well at every turn, each taking plenty of solos and supporting his cohorts in doing the same. Queen, who churns and churns through this nine-track outing, takes two extended solos, but he never gives the impression that this is all about him. It’s about the group dynamic and the excitement of leading a tight band through the subgenres.

There’s a lot to sink your teeth into here: a fast take of Miles Davis’ famous “Seven Steps to Heaven,” a nice run through McCoy Tyner’s “Contemplation,” the get-under-your-skin soul-jazz of LeDonne’s “I Ain’t Looking at You” and the Latin-inflected hard-bop of Horace Silver’s “Nutville.” What these ears can’t get enough of are the straight-ahead blues: Shirley Scott’s “There’s Blues Everywhere,” which showcases LeDonne’s bubbling solo on the Hammond B3, and Don Patterson’s “Mellow Soul,” featuring a sax solo by Davis so soulful you know he’s feeling it. You will too.

Originally published in July/August 2007

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