A graduate of Nebraska University and later from the U.S. Army Band (one of the best on-the-job training gigs a young music professional can get), drummer/bandleader Bradley Allen has selected a diverse set of tunes for his debut album. He sweeps the spectrum to include bop, swing, R&B and jump jive. Allen is joined by Kansas City friends, all of whom are comfortable with any of these genres. There's Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail" with Tom DeMasters doing the vocal honors, Phil Brenner on honking alto, and Johnie Eager on trombone sharing spacious solo time. DeMasters' vocalizing shows the same infectious growling quality that made Prima's voice instantly recognizable. Sonny Rollins' bop classic "St. Thomas" has DeMasters out front playing a Jim Hall-like guitar backed by Allen's in-step drumming. To his credit, the drummer does not use his position as leader to grab all the solo time. Brenner picks up his alto to do Charlie Barnet on "Cherokee" before engaging in some strong post-bop improvisations over the melody. A bass and guitar-dominated rendition of Charles Mingus' "Nostalgia in Times Square" is a session highlight. Throughout all the cuts, there's a good balance among the various instrumentalists, with no one taking over and pushing the others aside. No one gets more than a reasonable share of the solo time and no one is relegated to just comping. Far too short on playing time (just 22 minutes!), this CD still demonstrates the musicians' ability to play an array of different styles, which bodes well for the group's future. Next time, however, Bradley Allen and company will have to spring for some more minutes if they expect to be taken seriously by the CD-buying public.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan