Harry Allen

A Night at Birdland, Vol. 2

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Harry Allen leads a fine quintet on the second of two volumes recorded over a pair of nights in 1993 at Hamburg's Birdland nightclub. The tenor saxophonist was quite familiar with bandmates trumpeter Randy Sandke and drummer Oliver Jackson, having worked with them extensively on recordings and in all-star lineups assembled by George Wein. The band is rounded out by two veterans of the British jazz scene, pianist Brian Dee and bassist Len Skeat. Obviously, the familiarity keeps the group from sounding like a pickup effort with little or no rehearsal. Allen's melodic solos are steeped in the tradition of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, especially in rich ballads like "My Foolish Heart" and the deliberate "Sweet Lorraine." For a little bit of variety from the swing era, the quintet offers a stimulating bop number and the early jazz chestnut "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me."

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