Tuesday, June 04, 2013

CD Review: Byron Allen Trio

The Byron Allen Trio
(ESP) www.espdisk.com

Upon discovering the ESP catalog during high school via the Base label reissues, and the occasional original pressing that popped up in a used bin, one thing that added to the intrigue was the list of other releases that appeared on the back covers, complete with a little description. Someday I might break down and bid on a copy of The Coach with Six Insides, a musical adaptation of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. And despite one former ESP artist telling me that I should avoid it, I would still like to hear the label's first release, Ni Kantu en Esperanto.

The Byron Allen Trio's self-titled album was one such album listed on the back of The Fugs First Album, and it stated that the alto-playing leader had been described as "the spiritual descendant of Charlie Parker." It's an odd descriptor considering that everyone who picked up an alto from Cannonball Adderley on down could be considered a descendant of Bird. But...

UPDATE, JULY 5, 2013: I hate to do this if you're reading this review for the first time, but JazzTimes assigned me to review this album after I originally posted this entry. So I'm taking down the proper review because I can't have it running in both places. Look for it reviewed in tandem with Giuseppi Logan in an issue of JazzTimes perhaps at the end of the summer. Support print media, especially jazz print media. I'll leave you with the final paragraph, which has some of Allen's background.

So the story goes, Allen only released one more album after this one, a good 15 years after his debut. Like pianist Lowell Davidson, who was also brought to ESP by Ornette Coleman, Allen disappeared after that. Google searches of his name lead back to ESP (which offers no current whereabouts) or to the comedian of the same name. But while Davidson pursued a career in chemistry and died after an accident, maybe there is a chance that Allen might still be out there. That would be a good thing, because this album is strong addition to the ESP catalog, and puts Allen up there with Marion Brown and Sonny Simmons on the list of powerful alto saxophonists.

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