Untold Stories, the debut CD from New York Jazz Guitarist Dave Allen, showcases an exciting and unique player in the mold of Pat Metheny, Ben Monder, Jonathan Kreisberg and Adam Rogers. Monster chops, harmonic resourcefulness, strong melodic sense, seamless group interaction, considerable compositional talent and a kick-ass group of talented players make this CD an electrifying piece of work.
It’s not long into the opening track, “Momentum”, that you get an acute sense of how Allen thinks and plays. His sound is warm and thick with chords and lines that are confidently played and right on the money. Each note sounds like it belongs exactly where he played it with no room for error. The same goes for the supporting players behind Allen. Saxophonist wunderkind Seamus Blake, dynamic drummer Mark Ferber and unyielding bassist Carlo DeRosa have huge ears as they follow Allen through nine tracks of his original compositions that range from driving tunes like “Momentum”, “Paradigm Shift”, “Samba”, “Uneasy”, to softer tunes like “In Some Human City”, “Searching”, “Spring Snow”, “Out of the Trap” and “Not Even the Rain”. And while Seamus Blake only appears on four tunes, the band sounds just as full when he’s not blowing as when he is thanks to the ever present Ferber and DeRosa who are just a dynamo rhythm section.
No matter how intense the tune or how sensitive, Allen responds to the changes with an enthusiasm that is stellar. His fluidness and melodic control are quite enviable as fleet-fingered single note runs erupt from the fretboard laying down line after line of harmonic and melodic goodness interspersed with a swift command of chord shapes that fit nicely throughout his single line explorations. And while all the tunes are fine examples of his skill, pay special attention to the tunes “Momentum”, “Paradigm Shift” and “Samba”, you’ll be glad you did.
Now of course this is Dave Allen’s moment to shine but that doesn’t mean that he gets to hog the entire spotlight for himself. Like any true leader he knows when to hand the reigns over to another and the NY crew don’t disappoint.
As you have probably already heard from the likes of Pat Metheny and John Scofield, Seamus Blake is just an awesome talent and he brings it forth on this date with a gusto that matches Allen’s, which is what makes this date so exciting. Two stalwart improvisers tearing up the charts is a thing of beauty and they definitely go to town on every tune. Ferber and DeRosa, drums and bass respectively also get a few moments to bring the house down and they do just that as DeRosa gets to shine on “Spring Snow”, “Uneasy” and sizzle in a solo spot on “Samba” while Ferber gets to show off his stuff on “Uneasy”, “Momentum” and every other tune on “Untold Stories”. Very impressive!
As you can probably tell I have really enjoyed listening to “Untold Stories” and it has even made it to my pocket MP3 player. If you are a player and/or a fan of Jazz Guitar and the high art of improvisation, then add “Untold Stories” to your collection now. With any luck there will be more Untold Stories from Dave Allen and if so I’ll be the first in line.