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Ben Allison Offers a Buzz in May

While bassist Ben Allison (pictured) readies his troops in the Jazz Composers Collective for the organization’s festival in April, he also plans for the release of his next album, Buzz, due May 25 on Palmetto.

Allison’s last album was 2002’s Peace Pipe, a slightly multi-culti affair recorded with a band of the same name that included kora player Mamadou Diabate. The new album, a seven-track effort that features a cover of the Beatles’ ode to everything “Across the Universe,” has Allison returning to more traditional jazz instrumentation and recording once again with a band named Medicine Wheel, which produced the lauded 2001 album Riding the Tiger. The Wheel has changed a bit since then, however. While reedists Michael Blake and Ted Nash and keyboardist Frank Kimbrough still rank among its members, drummer Jeff Ballard is replaced by Michael Sarin on Buzz, and the trumpet, manned by Ron Horton on Tiger, has been exchanged with trombone, courtesy of Clark Gayton.

The Beatles tune is one of three non-Allison compositions on Buzz. The Wheel also tackles “Erato,” an impressionistic song by pianist Andrew Hill that first appeared on his 1965 album Cosmos, and saxophonist Blake’s “Mauritania,” which got lots of play during Peace Pipe performances. The album’s title track is recycled; Allison first recorded it for Medicine Wheel’s self-titled 1998 album.

Buzz was recorded by Matt Balitsaris, a guitarist and synthesizer player who has led four dates for Palmetto himself.

Track list:

Respiration (6:11)

Buzz (7:58)

Green Al (6:14)

Mauritania (7:01)

Erato (4:42)

R&B Fantasy (7:18)

Across the Universe (5:16)

Originally Published