Allen's a quite respectable post-bop trumpeter and a reasonably interesting composer, who on this CD manages to inject some life into mainstream jazz's anemic bloodstream. Allen's terse, craggy improvisations, and the relative freshness of his heavily rhythmic, slightly skewed ostinato-based tunes make for a straightahead concept more compelling than most. Drummer Marvin Smith kicks the band with a firm hand -- sometimes too firm, for my taste. Smith's maintains a nice feel, but he could pay a lot more attention to the sounds coming out of his kit, which are often something less than musical. His timbres are largely without tact. Saxophonist Donald Harrison is a clean, developmentally minded player, with an emotional reserve and an air of contrivance that this reviewer finds a bit off-putting. He's a smart player, though; there's no doubting that. Bassist Christian McBride is the quintessential neo-bop prodigy, only McBride displays so much imagination and fire that one can't help but hope that he might one day transcend the mundane requirements of the genre. Pianist Anthony Wonsey covers the bases in a mannered way. Were Allen to have made this record with a more tonally-astute drummer, a more energetic saxophonist and a more inventive pianist, it might have really been something. As it is, it's simply not bad.
R 'n' B Review
by Chris Kelsey