21 November 2009

Enthusiasms (28) ~ JD Allen Trio

Saxophonist JD Allen has put out a pair of really terrific recordings over the past couple of years. His partners in crime are Gregg August (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). You can hear the trio on this broadcast from the Village Vanguard (via npr) late last summer. The tunes are subtle and concise, the arrangements sparse, and the musicians interactive. This is not a conventional soloist with supporting rhythm section undertaking. Allen has received a lot of press for his most recent release Shine! which indeed is very, very good. But for my money his earlier cd I Am, I Am is close to being a real masterpiece.* Not only is the music impressive, but the cover got me wondering. Where had I seen this I AM before?

Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, 1968 ~ Photograph © Ernest Withers.

March 29, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee: National guardsmen
bayonets block civil rights activists trying to stage
a protest on Beale Street.
The marching demonstrators,
wearing signs which read 'I Am A Man',
were also flanked
by tanks.
Photograph © Bettman/Corbis.

* Both cds are on Sunnyside records.

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