Saturday, May 11, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Vintage tenor time with Harry Allen

Today, let's take a look at some video clips featuring tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, who will team up with pianist and singer Freddy Cole for a four-night run starting Wednesday, May 22 through Saturday, May 25 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Given his generation, Allen, 46, is something of a musical throwback, as he's been heavily influenced by the pre-WWII swing tradition of tenor saxophonists such as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Lester Young and their successors like Stan Getz and Zoot Sims, rather than by the more standard list of recent modern icons like Coltrane, Rollins and Shorter. Drawing primarily on a repertoire of familiar standards, Allen is known especially for his ballad playing, and his overall musical sensibility should make for a good cross-generational pairing with the 81-year-old Cole, brother of legendary singer-pianist Nat "King" Cole.

By way of examples, here are a half-dozen videos showing recent performances by Allen of a mix of ballads and swing tunes. The first track, "Blues in A flat," features the saxophonist with a rhythm section of pianist Rossano Sportiello, bassist Joel Forbes, and drummer Chuck Riggs, and was recorded in June of last year at Feinstein's in NYC.

Down below, you can hear Allen take on the ballad standard "My Romance," abetted by Sportiello, bassist Glenn Holmes and drummer Bill Ransom in September 2011 at Jazz at Chautauqua in New York.

The third clip features Allen playing "If I Were A Bell" with Allen Farnham (piano), Bill Moring (bass) and Steve Johns (drums) in April 2010 at the Union County Performing Arts Center New Jersey. That's followed by another classic ballad, "I'm in the Mood for Love," as rendered by Allen, Sporiello, bassist Richard Simon and drummer Ed Metz in April 2012 at the Atlanta Jazz Party.

We close with two more videos from June 2012 at Feinstein's, in which Allen and the rhythm section are joined by trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso and former Duke Ellington orchestra baritone saxophonist Joe Temperly. In "Sweet Georgia Brown," note that Allen's solo starting at around 3:28 includes some licks that border on bebop, and there's also what sure sounds like a quote of the "Salt Peanuts" lick in the closing trading of eights and fours. The final track features Allen and friends on "Did You Call Her Today" and "In A Mellotone."

To see some videos of Freddy Cole, who will team with Allen at the Bistro, check out this post that preceded Cole's last appearance at the Bistro in 2010.

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