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Ben Allison - Buzz


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Ben Allison has developed a strong compositional voice. On Buzz the compositions are what make this a worthwhile recording. His voicing for the horns are always appealing and he adds enough twists and turns to keep the listeners interest. Allison is not a standard hard bop/straight-ahead composer, but his music is nonetheless always accessible. Most composers simply develop a head, which serves as a vehicle for the improvisers. Allison’s compositions tend to be more fully developed. While listening to Buzz I got the sense that the solos really served the compositions. That’s probably the reason why after listening to this disc several times throughout the week there was very few solos that made a significant impression on me. That’s not to say the individual contributions of the musicians are not good. Quite the opposite all of the musicians play very well – in particular pianist Frank Kimbrough, who’s solo on the title track reminded me of Andrew Hill with a lot more technical ability. My point is just that for me, Buzz’s value really is as a sum of all of its individual parts. The sum obviously benefits from the fact that all of these musicians are members of the Jazz Composers Collective and as a result play with each other very often. This has breeded a familiarity that is evident on every recording featuring JCC members and this one is no exception.

Other highlights for me in addition to Kimbrough’s playing on the title track included Sarin’s incorporation of the drum pattern from one of Al Green’s most famous recordings on “Green Al”, a gorgeous rendition of Andrew Hill’s “Erato” and the mysteriously subtle groove of “R&B Fantasy”.

A fine album overall and one that would add value to any jazz collection.

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