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Harry Allen: Love Songs Live!

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Although the rampant romanticism that suffuses tenorman Allen’s balladeering may not meet the imperatives of contemporary improvisation that avant-gardists have set for our music, so be it. Clearly, we’re talking about two entirely different approaches to, and definitions of, jazz. Unlike the screechers and bleaters who have inhabited the latter world since the late ’60s, Allen is a musician who values melody and sound above all else, particularly such tonal concepts as are associated with both Ben Webster and Stan Getz. On the basis of his many recordings, Allen has demonstrated over and over again his sensitivity to not only lyrical contours of melodic shaping, emotionally nuanced tonal shadings and swing in the classic manner, but also a control of intonation rivaling most of his contemporaries.

On Love Songs Live!, in the company of top ranking trumpeter Randy Sandke and guitarist Howard Alden, along with three different teams of stellar pianists, bassists and drummers, Allen puts his stamp on 10 ballads, including “But Beautiful,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” “The Touch of Your Lips,” two Jobim bossas, his own arresting “Skyscraper,” and a clutch of other familiar standards, culminating in the luscious “Stardust.” While six of these tracks have already appeared on earlier Nagel-Heyer CDs, the remaining are scheduled for release in the near future.