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Eric Allison: Mean Streets

At its least appealing, multi-reedman Allison’s offerings under the eye of executive producer Bob Weinstock sound like good-natured elevator music. At its best, it’s cute and sweetly appealing, as on “A Stroll In Savannah,” where Allison’s clarinet intonation of the melody, later passed to Melton Mustafa’s trumpet, is enchantingly sweet and evocative of retro good times. Likewise the title track, set as a syncopated New Orleans street march, with horns that are admirably tight together (but aside from Allison’s tenor work get a little dull and careless in solos, as do their rhythm section confreres).

Allison, composer of most of the music, seems inclined to wander through genres as well as instruments and geography. His alto and Tony Prentice’s piano sound as if they paid attention in church in the gospelly “When In Doubt (Tell the Truth)”, while the “Improvisation for Unaccompanied Saxophones”, created between Zoot Sims and Al Cohn and taken up here by tenors Allison and Turk Mauro, is both raw and cerebral.

Originally Published