Recommended: JD Allen – “Radio Flyer”


It’s more than just focused intensity with JD Allen.  Lots of musicians have that.  Some express it better than others, but it’s not a unique thing.  No, what JD Allen has got is grace.  No matter how furious the tempo may grow and regardless how patient a ballad’s melody might be exhaled, the saxophonist radiates a grace that washes over every note and every motion of every song, and it’s why his music so often sounds so much greater than a collaboration of musicians contributing their individual voices… it’s a sense of how everything is interconnected and moves in concert.  That’s Radio Flyer.

It’s the melodic ebb and flow of Gregg August‘s bass and Liberty Ellman‘s guitar on “Ghost Dance” and how Rudy Royston‘s drums envelops it all without the slightest risk of drowning it out.  It’s how the stormy downpour of Royston’s attack on “The Angelus Bell” isn’t nearly as fearsome as how Allen is able to dance his solo between the raindrops, untouched but definitely interactive.  It’s the first-blush sense that each member of the quartet is doing their own thing on title-track “Radio Flyer” before the second impression sets in that disassembly is, in fact, their unity, not unlike how a scattered mass of marbles all posses the same starting point and share the same collision to set them in motion in the first place.  It’s how the muscles flexed on “Daedalus” never forget they’re all part of the same body.  It’s all of those connections and how fluid their state of coexistence plays out.  There’s an elegance to it all, even when it sounds edgy as hell.  That’s the grace.  A single motion given the illusion of consisting of multiple acts.

A very fun album, as all of Allen’s recordings are.  The repetition of that distinction does nothing to diminish their enjoyment.  Go scoop this one up.

Your album personnel:  JD Allen (tenor sax), Gregg August (bass), Rudy Royston (drums) and Liberty Ellman (guitar).

Released on Savant Records.

Listen to more of the album on the label’s Soundcloud page.

Music from NYC.

Available at:  Amazon