Ben Allison

Seven Arrows

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Allison is an acoustic modern jazz bassist dedicated to original compositions and improvisations. A co-founder of the New York City-based Jazz Composers Collective, he draws his music from many modern sources, including Mingus, Monk, Herbie Nichols, and Carla Bley, but goes beyond mainstream into fresh territory. Tenor saxophonist/clarinetist/flutist Ted Nash, trumpeter Ron Horton, pianist Frank Kimbrough, and drummer Tim Horner all contribute equally, in the most democratic sense of music making. All seven tracks were written by Allison, but are not so obviously written by a bassist, for a bassist, or featuring a bassist. While "Dragzilla" and "Cosmic Groove Slinky" use ostinato bass repetition, it is as a springboard for quirky, boppish melodies in the case of the former, and for heavy chords and Sun Ra-like punctuations in the case of the latter. Allison admits in the liner notes describing "King of a One Man Planet" that his music cannot be isolated because it lacks the melody-harmony-rhythm that the audience expects. These pieces are evidence of that. "Delirioso" has many facets of bop and post-bop, including a bass hinting at Monk's "Misterioso" and muted trumpet and clarinet lines querying a notion of Charlie Parker's "Cool Blues." At his most evocative, Allison sets the stage for a tonal painting of post-nuclear-bomb Nagasaki on "Little Boy," evoking past horrors with surreal stair-step piano and a chilling melody. "Forgetting, For Now" is also blue and somber, with Horton's sad trumpet leading and Nash's supportive tenor following. But not all is dark -- "Reflection of Desire" emotes a surging kinetic electricity. It's often impossible to describe modern jazz in terms of definition and surety, but the music here speaks for itself. A highly recommended release from an up and coming presence.

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