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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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HARRY ALLEN
AND FRIENDS

For George, Cole and Duke

Blue Heron Records
(no catalogue number)

 

 

1. Always True to You in My Fashion

2. In a Mellow Tone

3. Happy Reunion

4. Silk Stockings

5. Purple Gazelle (Angelica)

6. How Long Has This Been Going On?

7. I Love You Samantha

8. Shall We Dance?

9. By Strauss

10. Love For Sale

11. They All Laughed

12. Who Cares? ( So Long As You Care For Me)

13. Mood Indigo


Harry Allen - Tenor sax

Ehud Asherie - Piano

Nicki Parrott - Bass, vocals

Chuck Redd - Drums, vibraphone

`Little Johnny' Rivero - Latin percussion ( Tracks 5, 10 and 13)


The sleeve-note writer explains that they decided not to call this CD, `For George, Duke and Cole', in case people expected that it was a tribute to the late smooth jazz keyboardist, George Duke. I feel obliged to add that it is also not a tribute to the veteran actor so fondly remembered as Arthur Daley. Evidently he isn't such a big noise across the pond.......

The Washington-born tenorist, Harry Allen, occupies a hinterland somewhere between Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims. Allen favours familiar tunes that easily adapt to a straightforward, swinging format, so what better source of such material than three of the greatest composers of the twentieth-century. Most of the tunes are very well-known - the exceptions being Happy Reunion, recorded by an Ellington small group in 1958, and Purple Gazelle, first recorded by Ellington with John Coltrane in 1962 under the title `Angelica'. And it's worth mentioning that Shall We Dance? has not strayed in from `The King and I' but is from the 1937 Astaire/Rogers film written by the Gershwins.

The opening track, Porter's Always True to You in My Fashion', sets the tone for the rest of the CD: Allen plays a straightforward statement of the melody, pianist Asherie and bassist Parrott contribute brief solos, then Allen gets the feet really tapping with a few breezy choruses. It's hardly cutting edge, but it's warm, it's accessible and it certainly swings.

Happy Reunion is a delightful ballad with Allen sounding suitably Webster-ish as he explores the melody. Ehud Asherie adds some nice, Ellingtonian touches on piano. Asherie, an Israeli who came to live in New York as a child, is an excellent accompanist for Allen - his playing is firmly in the swing style and he contributes several witty solos on the recording.

Bassist Nicky Parrott also contributes some pleasant vocals on In a Mellow Tone, How Long Has This Been Going On and Mood Indigo, and provides a solid rhythmic foundation with drummer Chuck Redd. The quartet expands to a quintet for three numbers where `Little Johnny' Rivero adds a Latin beat to provide some contrast.

Fans of Harry Allen will know exactly what to expect and will not be disappointed.

George Stacy



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