WBGO Radar

Eddie Allen: Push

Eddie Allen's CD Push

Trumpeter Eddie Allen makes musical choices that immediately draw you to his sphere: his compositions are loaded with what the London Observer calls "crackle."

Hearing him for the first time, one immediately knows he has a command of his instrument that empowers him to explore places with a direct sense that takes the listener for quite a ride.

There's all this and more on Push, his new recording on Edjalen Music.

All the tunes here are originals save one, a beautiful treatment of Anthony Newley's "Who Can I Turn To?"

The opener, "Nakia," shows right away Allen has the right group assembled - Keith Loftis on tenor sax, trombonist Dion Tucker, Misha Tsiganov on keyboards, pianist Mark Soskin, Kenny Davis on bass and drummer E.J. Strickland.

"Sacred Ground" has nice room for pianist Soskin to develop toward Tucker's bone exploration to the leader's delightful trumpet search.

"Caress" does just that, featuring a leisurely trumpet / trombone / tenor stroll, allowing the space for the ensemble to move about this tune.

My favorite here is "Hillside Strut." A funky number which allows the band to show off the good time they had making this one, and giving you a push to move in ways you might have forgotten.

After an inviting piano introduction, "Whispers In The Dark" sways along, with Dion Tucker channeling his finest Curtis Fuller filligree, with Allen squeezing out just the right phrasing to make the whispers here speak directly to you. Tsiganov's keyboard work calls and responds to the ensemble.

"Eve Deceived" has a feel that you might hear on a classic record from the Jazz Crusaders. Loftis with his tenor sax, and the leader's trumpet give this the energy, with Strickland's drum fills making this one anything but a deception.

"The title track, Push," has bass and drums providing the set-up. The ensemble kicks in, and we get it - PUSH.

The first time I saw Eddie Allen perform, he was working alongside tenor saxophonist Billy Harper in Harper's quintet. After that, no push was required for me to tune in, anytime I saw the name Eddie Allen.

Push comes out April 8.

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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