|Ms. Allens self-titled debut album as a leader is a great first effort. Colleen Allen is a multi-instrumentalist, playing soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute, displaying an equal comfort level with each instrument. The liner notes indicate that the songs on the album are Ms. Allens collected treasures from her travels through the world. Most of the songs on the album are by Canadian composers, some excellent songs. There are two songs composed by Allen that have great titles, Ninety-Nine Binder Twine and Chasen Me, very different songs with catchy melodies and enticing rhythms. The album is a treasure, with rich melodic piano playing, shining emerald guitar passages and features the golden tone of Ms. Allens saxophone playing.
The first song of the recording Long Distance provides the bait, Rob Piltch on a guitar intro that hooks you with melodic hypnosis, and does not let you go until the final note of the recording is played by Allen on alto sax for her composition Chasen Me, some eight songs later.
Most of the songs are very laid back tunes, played at moderate tempos, not lacking in excitement, but not quite swinging either. Percussionist Rick Lazar takes on the rhythm duties for most tracks; the percussion instrument of choice is a dumbek, a Middle Eastern drum. Bassist George Koller is called upon to maintain the foundation. He provides solid footings throughout with some breakout passages that are exceptional, I Could Have Danced All Night by Lerner and Loewe is a good example of his solid bass playing on a fantastic arrangement of this classic song.
The piano duties are shared by two exceptional pianists, Dave Restivo and Gordon Sheard. A Sheard composition is one of the treasures on the album, Dawn Song and it features the piano playing of Restivo. The song has Allen playing alto sax with her trademark mellow tone, flowing lyrically and creating beautiful imagery. Restivo, Koller and Piltch comp in support of Colleen Allen, adding flourishes of inspirational fills.
A superb recording, excellent songs, great arrangements and well produced by Ms. Allen, with special treats from her friends. The bonus vocal addition by Marc Jordan on his composition Coronation Street is a delight.
The packaging of the CD is slick, a professional product, but even with someone as widely known as Colleen Allen it would be prudent to add a credit for the instrument or instruments you are playing, self-promotion as a multi-instrumentalist cant hurt. One other important observation, the web site link sends you to the wrong site. A small error, the CD cover has the site as a 'dot com' when in fact it is a 'dot ca', once at the Colleenallen.ca site you will have extensive liner notes available for your viewing pleasure.
report by Paul J. Youngman KJA Jazz Advocate February 2007