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JD Allen: Barracoon (Savant)

The history of jazz is in JD Allen’s horn. Barracoon, his 13th release, follows a modest format: the tenor saxophonist lays out a simple melody, which is then cannibalized, regurgitated, and fired by his new rhythm section of drummer Nic Cacioppo and bassist Ian Kenselaar, over which Allen further deconstructs his initial message. It’s a … Read More “JD Allen: Barracoon (Savant)”

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JD Allen: Love Stone (Savant)

Look past JD Allen’s propulsiveness as a player and you’ll note that his melodic sense has always leaned toward the concise. Ballads may have seemed previously like tokens on the tenor saxophonist’s hard-driving and exploratory records, but a whole album of them is actually a natural fit for him. Love Stone, recorded with his longtime … Read More “JD Allen: Love Stone (Savant)”

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JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant)

If Radio Flyer by JD Allen is the tenor saxophonist’s best album yet—and it is—it’s largely because of leading-edge guitarist Liberty Ellman’s appearance. Allen has augmented the trio format before. But Ellman’s work alongside bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston is subtler and more atmospheric, adding to the music without altering the chemistry. That chemistry … Read More “JD Allen: Radio Flyer (Savant)”

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JD Allen: Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues

As its subtitle suggests, saxophonist-composer JD Allen’s Americana has a distinctly personal slant. Nevertheless, this collection of trio performances, mostly inspired by Allen’s writing, is multifaceted and richly hued. The pieces reflect a wide variety of blues and jazz traditions as well as pivotal connections, beginning with the reedman’s evocative “Tell the Truth, Shame the … Read More “JD Allen: Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues”

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JD Allen: Graffiti

Throughout Graffiti, saxophonist JD Allen’s music creates a strong sense of familiarity: a rubato melody driven by rolling drums and impassioned Trane-like tenor; a snaky Rollins-esque riff; even some folk qualities that acknowledge Ornette Coleman. But, per usual, it’s all in the delivery; for Allen, that means creating a signature sound by moving too fast … Read More “JD Allen: Graffiti”

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JD Allen: Bloom

JD Allen writes in his album notes that “Technically Bloom draws from three sources, 20th-century classical music, the American songbook and jazz improvisation.” But two of Allen’s tenor sax predecessors-John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins-are much in evidence as well. Allen has a big tone that at different times calls to mind each of them (listeners … Read More “JD Allen: Bloom”

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JD Allen: Grace

Tenor saxophonist JD Allen sounds different on Grace-less muscular, more introspective. But while he’s not as aggressive as he has been over his last several albums, he’s playing with just as much confidence. After four records in a sax-bass-drums trio, he’s added a pianist-Eldar Djangirov, no less-to the group. And he’s playing a bit longer. … Read More “JD Allen: Grace”

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