Eddie Allen – Push
(Edjalen Music 505. CD Review by Peter Vacher)
A discerning friend heard this album and pronounced it as being ‘typically New York’ in its energy and feel. Rightly so for leader Eddie Allen plays trumpet with the kind of emotional directness and cracking vigour that seems quintessentially New Yorkish and his chosen colleagues are similarly inclined.
Allen is known for his versatility and has been around long enough (he’s 56) to have run the gamut from Broadway shows to hard-bop combos and on to Lester Bowie’s Fantasy via Art Blakey’s big band and back again. His musical stance is broadly post-bop with hints in his tone and attack of an allegiance to both Lee Morgan and Bowie, with a dash of Wynton Marsalis here and there. Each of these facets is revealed in an album that demonstrates both his stylistic range and wide-ranging composing skills.
Allen is teamed here with a number of capable players, the stand-outs being tenorist Keith Loftis (recently seen in Britain) and the excellent pianist Mark Soskin. I’m less taken with trombonist Dion Tucker who seems at a loss to find a memorable phrase when it’s his turn to solo.
Allen says his music is intended to be ‘fun to listen to’ and there’s a diversity of intention in the eight originals he offers that is genuinely rewarding, balanced by a soulful reading of Anthony Newley’s Who Can I Turn To that is quite measured and stately. If there’s one question mark for me it is in the presence of keyboards player Misha Tsiganov who lays down some squishy backgrounds and assorted effects that seem to add little of consequence. Worth pursuing for Allen and Soskin best of all, although Loftis runs them close.