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Colleen Allen by Colleen Allen

Ms. Allen’s 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 on each instrument. The liner notes indicate that the songs on the album are Ms. Allen’s 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 "Chase’n Me," very different songs with catchy melodies and enticing rhythms. The album is a treasure, with rich melodic piano playing, shinning emerald guitar passages and features the golden tone of Ms. Allen’s 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 "Chase’n 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 professional, but even with someone as widely known as Colleen Allen it would be prudent to add a credit for the instrument or instruments your playing, self-promotion as a multi-instrumentalist can’t 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 .com when in fact it is a .ca, once at the Colleenallen.ca site you will have extensive liner notes available for your viewing pleasure.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Colleen Allen
  • CD Title: Colleen Allen
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Timely Manor
  • Tracks: Long Distance, Ruwenzori, Coronation Street, I Could Have Danced All Night, Dawn Song, Lament, Slanty Planty, Ninety Nine Binder Twine, Chase’n Me
  • Musicians: Dave Restivo, Gordon Sheard (piano), Rob Piltch (guitar), George Koller (bass), Rick Lazar (percussion), Marc Jordan (vocal)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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