Friday, November 13, 2009

More J.D. Allen & Some Miles

I have been listening to I AM I AM, by the J.D. Allen Trio.  It is one of those recordings that impressed me a lot more the second time I heard it.  I would like to think that is the result of spiritual growth, but it may be more like the difference in a good wine when your pallet is better prepared. 

Allen's music is fine example of what I call Page Four Jazz: the music sounds a lot like the intro to a traditional bop melody that has been extended to the length of a whole song.  The architecture of melody has been disassembled and reassembled into something that no longer looks like a dwelling place.  But the effect is to see the inner spirit of each element in stark relief.  This sort of thing can be very dry when it is abstracted to mere mathematical formulas, as it sometimes is more extreme avant garde music.  But Allen preserves the passion of each element as he weaves his tapestry.  Dancing around in my kitchen as I listen, I feel a little like a serpent being charmed out of its basket. 

I think this is a very substantial work, and I recommend it.  You can hear a good bit of the J.D. Allen Trio at the Village Vanguard site.  See my earlier post.  Here is a sample:
J.D. Allen Trio/Titus/I AM I AM
It occurred to me as I was listening that this reminded me of one of Miles Davis's less celebrated albums.  Miles In The Sky is an artifact of his experiments with avant garde jazz.  This is one of the recordings by his second great quintet: Miles Davis (tp) Wayne Shorter (ts) Herbie Hancock (p) George Benson (el-g) Ron Carter (b) Tony Williams (d).   Here is a sample:
Miles Davis/Black Comedy/Miles in the Sky
I think that a careful listen will detect the similar approach to musical composition in the two works, though they are made with a very different instrument set, decades apart.  It is a testament to the stamina of the post bop/avant garde regime.  Well, give it a try and let me know how it comes out.

PS.  I have also been listening to an earlier J.D. Allen recording, Pharaoh's Children.  It is also very good.  J.D. Allen is the real thing. 


  1. Well Ken, Great minds think alike - and almost at the same time:

    And I will say, too, that I think you top ten list is pretty close to perfect (I especially commend the Monk, Mingus, Miles and Coleman selections - but like the rest too).

    Why can't I meet more political scientists with such good sense?

    Jim Johnson

  2. Great comment, Jim. I missed it until now, more than a month later.