JD Allen, Bloom, Savant

From 2014. The tenor saxophone hero here with cultured pianist Orrin Evans, practically Bley-like, LaFaro-calibre bassist Alexander Claffy, and drummer Jonathan Barber, summoning Rudy Royston-like rolls and routines on ‘The Secret Lives of Guest …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 8 months.

From 2014. The tenor saxophone hero here with cultured pianist Orrin Evans, practically Bley-like, LaFaro-calibre bassist Alexander Claffy, and drummer Jonathan Barber, summoning Rudy Royston-like rolls and routines on ‘The Secret Lives of Guest Workers’, recorded in a New Jersey studio in January this year an album that draws, Allen says in the notes, on: 20th century classical music (Messiaen and Schoenberg); the Great American songbook; and, jazz improvisation.

Allen is one of the tenor saxophonists closest to the spirit of John Coltrane playing today, the Detroit-born 41-year-old sends you into a space of retreat to emerge somehow exhilarated. Music for the mind and the body Allen’s last record as a leader was Grace and you may have also picked up on him on Jaimeo Brown’s groundbreaking 2013 record Transcendence.

An awesome record, words are pretty much unnecessary, but pick your jaw up off the floor as you’ll need it to chew over Bloom with your friends. Mostly JD’s tunes plus Tadd Dameron’s cool ballad ‘If You Could See Me Now’, a song Sarah Vaughan made her own in the 1940s, all stillness and dewy, and Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’ glistening and iridescent. The traditional ‘Pater Noster’ will give you chills. A marvel. SG

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Max Luthert, Orbital, Whirlwind Recordings

From 2014. A skilful sextet album led by Max Luthert, debuting as a leader in the studio, the bassist, best known for his work in Partikel, showing a strong compositional method here. All his own tunes, beginning with ‘Grand Designs’, there is a …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 8 months.

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From 2014. A skilful sextet album led by Max Luthert, debuting as a leader in the studio, the bassist, best known for his work in Partikel, showing a strong compositional method here.

All his own tunes, beginning with ‘Grand Designs’, there is a lot of jazz history in the Luthert imagination that manages to encompass hard bop, Cool, and even chamber jazz terrain, Duncan Eagles’ tenor saxophone sounding more Wayne Shorter-like than ever Eagles does alongside Luthert in Partikel, and so tender in his own playing voice for instance on the ballad ‘Quiet December.’

Drummer Dave Hamblett is a stimulatingly perky presence but he has, surrounded by players so innately rhythmic, to fight for space particularly on the climax of ‘The Edgewall’.

Even if there aren’t too many silences somehow a spatial sense is invoked despite the hustle and bustle of the arrangements especially on the absorbing ‘Pacific Before Tiger.’

Recorded in October last year a very mature work for a debut, some very “at ease” blowing, altoist Séb Pipe’s taut, dramatic sound blending in well. Flautist Gareth Lockrane offers plenty of timbral variety, particularly on a standout solo passage of ‘Assam’ where pianist Matt Robinson backing him manages to channel a John Taylor-like atmosphere.

Luthert has a fine sense of time and a big jazz vocabulary at his disposal, his modernistic sound encompassing the bass tradition that stretches from Richard Davis to Dave Holland. SG