Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CD REVIEW / JD Allen- I AM IAM

For a man to declare unabashedly, 'I AM, I AM'! is a cry like none other! His humanity lays threadbare, naked to the world. Unequivocal, heart piercing. This bold new recording from saxophonist JD Allen reaches right to the core of our being. The mantle of our culture. The symbiotic basis of who we are as a society.
Allen has for the past decade or so been making a distinguishable name for himself. This writer became aware of Allen's musical universe through the recordings of drum master Winard Harper. Then came his debut disc "In Search Of..." on the Italian Red Records label. He also held down the sax chair on several Cindy Blackman's dates, acquitting himself valuably. The came Russell Gunn's 'Blue On The DL' and pianist Orrin Evans, 'The Band- Live at Widener University.' In the meantime he released, 'Pharoah's Children' his second date. This newest, 'I AM I AM' (Sunnyside), comes not a moment too soon. In fact I'd be willing to ask, 'where has JD Allen been all this time'?
In the trenches no doubt.
Allen is certainly equal to anyone of his generation. If not more than talented. For IAM IAM the saxist is joined by the protean bassist Gregg August, whose gut busting big chords strum and thunder. As for drummer Rudy Royston, he tips and trills, shuffling rhythms like a joyful kid on the street thumping a plastic paint pale. He floats and fills.
The over lay of each of the discs 10 tunes is actually an undercurrent of unmitigated melodic force. While his first disc, "In Search Of..."paid symbolic homage to Wayne Shorter in weight and measure, on IAM IAM Allen drinks from the fountain of Coltrane. And why not?!! We are not wont of thirst any more.
Each cut, such as 'The North Star' to 'Id' to 'Othello' imprint Allen's stark soulfulness. He is 'cutting up' as they say in the hood. And its high time we are entreated to more of his flair for urban interpretation of what's happening NOW! JD Allen is a baddd mother......! Now run and tell that!!!

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