Choosing songs from the extensive collections of great jazz classics and popular tunes that lend themselves to jazz interpretation must have been a real challenge. The list that wound up on this CD is a good representation, but lacks the definitive Brazilian stylings that one would expect. However, the Trio and Allen deliver a well-rounded performance of some real favorites. The opening song "S'wonderful", a Gershwin favorite of most any standards lover is delivered impeccably. The ensemble then takes on a number of old familiar songs, and in doing so, pays homage to the composer, and the culture of Brazilian/American jazz. Allen's work has all the texture and beauty one has come to expect from him over the years. What is a real treat is the interplay between he and the guitarist Romero Lubambo, reminiscent of Getz and Jobim, it has an almost lusty character to it. This album with its fresh interpretations of classics is truly entertaining. Plain and simple, you enjoy listening to this CD, no matter where you are. The selections, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows", "Taking a Chance on Love", "The Nearness of You" each offers something special, whether it is Allen's subtle note massaging or Lubambos expansive use of the fretboard to communicate the emotions of the song, you are entertained by all of it.
The balance of the instruments is another thing that you will note in this work. Never does Allen walk over the Trio, and Trio da Paz is always present, and Lubambo and Matta rise and fall in timely well executed compliment to Allen's sax work. Lubambo is an integral part of the Trio, and partners well with Allen during all the songs. Especially in the case of "I Concentrate on You" in which the rhythmic chords of Lubambo sets the pace and anticipation for Allen's sultry notes. "You Must Believe in Spring" is one of my personal favorites. Already a wonderful composition, the gentle interpretation by Allen and Lubambo take it a step further. Their rendition is very emotional and full of expression.
A pleasant surprise is the "Theme from MASH,Suicide is Painless". Lubambo stretches out with a beautiful solo in this piece reminding me that it was originally a piece for two guitars. The rest of the CD reinforces my initial reaction, it is a very entertaining work. The final song "The Continental" ties it all in nicely with a Brazilian jazz feel on an old standard. Nicely executed by the Trio with Allen delivering his great sax stylings. If you long for the days of Getz and Jobim and some great Brazilian stylings on some old favorites, Harry Allen meets Trio da Paz is for you.