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Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet : Stompin’ the Blues

Thanks to two guests, trombonist John Allred and tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, this small-combo session is more expansive than you might expect, beginning with a robust arrangement of “You’re Driving Me Crazy.” The album’s charms are quick to surface, what with Cohn expertly comping, dropping in little fills and brightly blending single-note lines, double stops and brushed chords; the brass and reeds forging a jaunty ensemble sound before making room for a series of crisp, contrasting solos; and bassist Joel Forbes and drummer Chuck Riggs providing plenty of smooth propulsion. The same winning lineup also helps revive “My Old Flame,” which features reedmen Allen and Scott trading soulful choruses, and “(I Would Do) Anything For You,” a performance in which the horns both strut and swing.

Of the remaining seven tunes, four were composed by tenorman Allen. Among these are the album’s title track, a fluid showcase for the composer as well as for Cohn and Allred, and “So There,” which brings the album to a delightfully animated close.

Certainly no one familiar with Allen and Cohn-or, for that matter, the Arbors label-will be surprised by the emphasis on uncluttered swing and romantic ballads. Still, the quartet and its guests sound genuinely engaged on this relaxed and sometimes free-spirited session, even when the melodies are instantly familiar. In fact, one of the album’s most memorable performances finds Allred and Allen warmly enhancing a medley of “It Might as Well Be Spring” and “Spring Is Here.”

Originally Published