Steve Allee’s tight trio with bassist Bill Moring and drummer Tim Horner always sounds like it is having a blast. Dragonfly is the perfect morning piano trio album. It will kick-start your day with optimism and energy.
Allee has done a lot of writing for TV and film, which may account for his ability to make the listener visualize his sonic subject matter. “Bus to Belmopan” vividly portrays a long trip through the mountains of Belize, the bus increasing its passenger count at every stop, in people, chickens and turkeys. (Rich Perry, usually the most inner-directed and existential of tenor saxophonists, sounds positively jaunty here, in one of two guest appearances that enhance the album.) The title track, in its flitting airiness, suggestively evokes its colorful theme.
Allee is an artist who stays close to the surface. His version of Leonard Bernstein’s great song “Somewhere” has none of the ache and revelation of, for example, Keith Jarrett’s. “Conversations With Bill” sounds like Bill Evans (as it displaces time over bar lines), but in a mild, diluted iteration. Yet Allee’s taste and poise and balance make his surfaces appealing. And when he takes on a song that is already ethereal, like Coldplay’s “X & Y,” he firms it up with jazz substance and intelligence.