Sep 6 2016
So, the JD Allen Trio came to the Chicago Jazz Festival looking for a fight, and they didn’t seem to care whether or not they had a sparring partner. They just started throwing punches with the first note of the first tune and never really let up. At first, it was three musicians mapping out their individual fight strategies. But when they came together, their feet and fists moving in harmony, it was a thing of grace and beauty. For the trio of tenor saxophonist Allen, bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston, the plan was swing with force, sing it like you mean it, apply relentless pressure to break the tune down and make it their own.
The change in speeds was how the melodies gained their individual shapes. A dancing motion allowed a melody to breathe and stretch out, a deep blues was just an opportunity for the trio to show the power in its left hook, and a ballad was a show of mercy through melody and patience. And all of this was straight-ahead jazz, some old-school, some modern, but what you got was your classic saxophone trio music. When the performance was over, the Jazz & Heritage Pavilion looked stunned. That, too, is a classic reaction to some fiery saxophone trio music.