June 14, 2024


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CD review: JD Allen – Queen City 2021: Video, CD cover

In JD Allen’s liner notes for ‘Queen City’, it becomes clear that he spent a great deal of time during the pandemic thinking about “what to do with the time that is given us.” The tenor saxophonist’s response to his period of introspection is this recording, a solo saxophone program. It is a recording full of stark, uncompromising power, affording some rare insight into the psyche of the performer.

This is not a Coleman Hawkins’ “Picasso”-toned, I-love-my-horn-and-my-horn-loves-me type of symbiosis. There is a real sense of confrontation between Allen and his horn and the audience which makes for a unique listening experience. This is not to imply that ‘Queen City’ is some severe piece of avant garde abrasiveness. Rather, it encompasses an extraordinarily wide-range of musical languages which communicates an equally broad spectrum of emotions. Melodies of ravishing beauty alternate with angular, aggressive phrases to express frustration, anger, resolve, hope, love and acceptance in what may become one of the most personal and revealing recordings to come out of the trying time of Covid-19.

In the notes Allen writes, “Performing music for and with people is what I do and I’ve come to the realization that an audience of listeners of any size is a part of the music; it’s also a shared experience. Covid-19 changed that and forced me to try to remember why I started playing in the first place, the years before I started performing and recording.”

  1. Three Little Words (2:56)
  2. Wildwood Flower (4:40)
  3. Maude (2:05)
  4. O.T.R. (2:59)
  5. Retrograde (2:42)
  6. Gem and Eye (2:44)
  7. Mother (2:01)
  8. Queen City (3:52)
  9. Vernetta (2:30)
  10. Kristian with a K (3:56)
  11. Nyla’s Sky (2:48)
  12. Just a Gigolo (3:18)
  13. These Foolish Things (3:41)

JD Allen solo tenor sax

JD Allen: Queen City (Savant) - JazzTimes

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