By: Edward Blanco
Internationally-recognized recording artist Harry Allen is an award-winning tenor saxophonist with over thirty albums to his credit. Rhythm On The River is his third recording on the Dutch Challenge Records label, and as per Challenge executive Chris Ellis’s opinion, “we think it’s his best yet and that is saying something.” A water-themed album designed by Ellis and approved by Allen, the music focuses on compositions with the word “river” in the title containing musical styles varying from New Orleans groove, traditional soft ballads, to bluesy rhythms and bouncy straight jazz swing.
Long known for his many quartet bands—producing some of his best recordings—Allen assembles another formidable quartet for this project, featuring New York master bassist Joel Forbes, much in-demand sideman, drummer Chuck Riggs and Italian-born pianist Rossano Sportiello, recognized as one of the best stride players around and former member of Europe’s historic jazz band “Milano Jazz Gang.” Joining the quartet as guest is legendary trumpeter/flugelhornist and cornet specialist Warren Vache who plays the cornet on the up-tempo and lively opener “Riverboat Shuffle” (misspelled on the inside and outside track listings as “Suffle”), on Hoagy Carmichael’s “Lazy River,” the bluesy grooves of “River, Stay Away From My Door” and the slow balladic “Old Folks At Home (Swanee River).
Highlights of the album include Allen’s solos on a gorgeous rendition of the time-honored standard “Cry Me A River,” more of the same on the beautiful “Weary River” ballad and a swinging performance on the dicey “Blue River” just to name a few. With a repertoire that contains thirteen pieces, there are plenty of special moments to be had on Rhythm On The River, and Harry Allen leads the way. Whether delivering a strong salvo, providing a warm and gentle nudge or blowing steamy notes, Allen remains one of the finest tenor saxophonists in the Jazz world today.
Year: 2011 Label: Challenge Records Artist Web: www.harryallenjazz.com