Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eddie Allen: Push

Edjalen Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Push

Eddie Allen is another New York City-based musician who has been around for years, and is admired by his peers, but remains relatively unknown by the general public. He was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attending the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and University of Wisconsin, and then earned a bachelor of music degree from New Jersey’s William Paterson University. 

He worked around the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, in a mixture of groups and genres — R&B, rock and Latin — before heading to New York, where he concentrated on good ol’ straight-ahead jazz. He has performed with Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter and many other icons.

Allen plays trumpet and flugelhorn, arranges, composes, writes and teaches, and is active with his own combos and a big band. This album features a septet: trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, piano, another keyboardist, acoustic bass and drums. Allen composed eight of the nine tunes on the menu; the sole exception is Anthony Newley’s “Who Can I Turn To.” Needless to say, Allen also did all of the arrangements. 

The tunes are a smooth mix of mid- to up-tempo swingers and ballads. It’s quite pleasant to have this group’s variation of horns; the unison passages are nicely orchestrated, and the solo lines are excellent. These guys may not be “name” artists, but they really groove. Just listen to “Hillside Strut,” and you won’t be able to keep your fingers from snapping. 

The operative word for this unit is tasty. There’s no honking or screaming, just great bop-tinged, straight-ahead jazz. Let’s hear more from Mr. Allen!

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