Eric Allison

Mean Streets Beat

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This is a fun recording that succeeds as both a good-time party record and as a set well worth several close listens. Eric Allison (who plays tenor, alto, clarinet, and flute) leads a varied program that features among his sidemen on various cuts the very compatible Turk Mauro (an impressive baritonist who also plays tenor), trumpeter Melton Mustafa, four different pianists (including an effective Dr. Lonnie Smith, normally an organist), three bassists, and two drummers. The music ranges from "Mean Streets Beat" (which utilizes an infectious New Orleans parade rhythm), a couple of mellow features for Allison's clarinet, and the cheerful bop melody "Here I Go Again" (which deserves to become a standard) to "Improvisation for Unaccompanied Saxophones," a rhythmic duet with Mauro that was originally recorded several decades ago by Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. Each of the ten selections has its own purpose and musical identity, and all but the saxophone duet are Allison originals. It is surprising that the 45-year-old Allison had only led one previous recording, and only for a local label in 1985, but perhaps it takes a lot of living to come up with so much good material. In any case, this highly enjoyable set was certainly worth the wait.

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