The voice and vision of JD Allen are in full bloom with the dynamic release, Bloom!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
It is a troubling commentary on the main stream jazz community when as an Independent writer, I may well be the first person to hit this release. Each JD Allen release is uniquely different as he has no particular wheelhouse, the man can play anything. Bloom is a unique and perhaps somewhat auto-biographical look at an artist whose exponential growth has turned many a critical head and delighted many a listening ear. This quartet session features an amazing rhythm section with the great Orrin Evans on piano along with drummer Jonathan Barber and bassist Alexander Claffy. While there is little doubt as to the leader of this session, the band performs with the classic working band sound from the old Impulse and Blue Note recordings from the 60's.
As diverse as the Allen discography, Bloom covers and cuts a wide harmonic trench. The odd metered title track "Bloom" is a master class in technique while not just pushing the lyrical envelope but sending it c.o.d. Within this hard bop on steroids approach the Allen tone and phrasing are beyond reproach. A man that personifies passion, the intensity level is dialed up yet this is far from a self indulgent blowing session. No notes are wasted while the rhythm section ties everything together nicely. Very little needs to be said about the solo selection "Stardust" other than perhaps exquisite. "Car-Car (The Blues)" takes an in the pocket swing to the next dimension. Swing hard or go home.
Perhaps the most diverse offering to date, Bloom is one of those rare releases that can take the harmonic road less traveled and still find the path back home. Allen is at the top of his game simply because he is not getting in his own way. This collective engages in musical conversations while we are given the honor of eavesdropping.
The best JD Allen? No...The best JD Allen is the release he has not done yet, something tells me he might agree too.
Tracks: Jack's Glass; Bloom; The Secret Life Of Guest Workers; The Dreamer; A Throng of Millions Can Be One; If You Could See Me Now; Stardust; The Rule of Thirds; Pater-Noster; Car-Car (The Blues).