Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen makes strong impressions on these sessions. Winard Harper’s band matches his intense but tasteful drumming with Abdou Mboup on percussion, the redoubtable George Cables on piano, and the impressive Eric Revis on bass. Trumpeter Patrick Rickman joins Allen in the front line. Essentially a hard bop romp, the players enjoy themselves, and so will the listener. Allen strains against the traces of these fine arrangements, pulling them along behind his Trane-ish lines without breaking into the free. On his own set, he takes far more liberties, showing his allegiance to Ornette Coleman. His band includes Fabio Morgera on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Shedrick Mitchell on piano on three of the ten tracks, Rodney Green on drums, and once again Eric Revis on bass. Revis and Allen play a lovely duet on Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” taking the slow road through the familiar melody, implying the rush of cymbals where they once implied the dirge. Green is a sympathetic foil for Revis and Allen throughout, and Morgera adds color and atmosphere as well as thoughtful improvisations. Allen comes across as a talent coming into his own: I look forward to hearing more.
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