Billallred_span3
08/09/11

Bill Allred
The New York Sessions
Arbors Records

A sunny and swinging mood elevates The New York Sessions, which teams Bill Allred with his son and fellow trombonist John. Of course, you might surmise that joyful feel by glancing at the list of tunes performed by the Allreds and a cozy circle of friends, from the opener, “Lullaby of Broadway,” to the closer, “Sweet Sue—Just You.”

Interspersed are familiar ballads and blues that add to the album’s appeal. “Always,” fashioned for tandem trombones, sports a clever and challenging arrangement. “Davenport Blues” marks the first of two delightfully evocative cameos by cornet player Warren Vaché. And “This Can’t Be Love” ultimately inspires an after-hours smoker, prominently featuring Jeff Phillips on Hammond B3 organ, Howard Alden on guitar and Ed Metz on drums. There are genuine surprises—on “Muskrat Ramble,” Alden switches to banjo and John Allred plays tuba—and beauty in the details: On “Angel Eyes,” Bill Allred soulfully embellishes the melody over a Latin groove before Alden’s expert comping and fills give way to an elegant and similarly expressive solo.

The elder Allred also sings, but his vocals are no match for the music here—not even close. Still, he and bassist Nicki Parrott remind us of tunesmith Dave Frishberg’s droll wit when they playfully join voices on “I Want to Be a Sideman.” One suspects none of the musicians accompanying the Allreds on this relaxed session would have any trouble relating to Frishberg’s sentiment.

Originally published in July/August 2011
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