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Alvin Queen: I Ain’t Looking at You

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