Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Harry Allen: Rhythm on the River

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Jazz at the extremities places special demands on the listener’s imagination. For jazz on the avant-garde left, an open mind is required to accept new notions of beauty. For jazz on the conservative right, curiosity is necessary to reach notions of beauty encrusted by time.

Harry Allen was born in 1966 but the music that sounds right to him comes from 30 or 40 years earlier. The opening tune here is “Riverboat Shuffle.” Hoagy Carmichael wrote it in 1924. Bix Beiderbecke played it with the Wolverine Orchestra. The frenetic Dixieland of Allen’s version celebrates an emotion no longer recognizable in terms of contemporary experience. Performances like “River, Stay ‘Way From My Door” and “Rhythm on the River” also operate in a risky zone between quaint and corny.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published