ALBUMS

Mike Allen Jazz Anthology Supplemental Audio Recordings

released 15 October 2021
Almus Jazz
  • Mike Allen (Saxophones)
  • Miles Black (Piano, Keyboards)
  1. 90 Original Mike Allen Compositions (1990-2020)
Purchase Album

Liner Notes


These new recordings are a compendium to my newly published Mike Allen Jazz Anthology. All ninety original compositions were recorded specifically for listening and play-along with the book. Please follow the Purchase Album link in order to obtain the full set of .WAV or .MP3 recordings for only $10. CDN


Just Like Magic featuring Peter Washington and Lewis Nash

released 10 May 2019
Cellar Live Records (CM 010519)
  • Mike Allen (Tenor Sax)
  • Peter Washington (Bass)
  • Lewis Nash (Drums)
  1. Big Bertha
  2. Klondike
  3. A Weaver Of Dreams
  4. Charlotte
  5. Someone To Watch Over Me
  6. The Man
  7. Miles' Mode
  8. Metamorphosis
  9. Solitude
  10. Same Old Feeling
  11. Jelly Roll
Purchase Album

Review


Just Like Magic CD Review
by Jack Bowers | All About Jazz

Mike Allen is another in an apparently never-ending line of talented saxophonists who seem to emerge, from time to time, from the Canadian provinces to ensnare the hearts and earn the admiration not only of their fellow countrymen but jazz enthusiasts in other climes as well. On Just Like Magic, Allen leads a deft and experienced trio whose other members are bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash.

In a program that encompasses five of his original compositions, a pair of standards and four lesser-known but no less engaging themes, Allen delivers the sort of unblemished performance that leaves no cause for censure, Even so, one may find it difficult to single him out from a chorus of his peers. If a near kin had to be singled out for comparison’s sake, it would probably be Joe Henderson, with whom Allen once studied. Fans of Henderson–and, no doubt, there are many–should weigh that as an indication of what to expect from Allen.

As noted, this is a saxophone trio, so there is no piano with which to enhance the melodic landscape. As that was Allen’s idea, those who miss the added depth and color a piano can provide know whee to aim their disapproval. Those who don’t should be quite happy to embrace a trio of this caliber. As it true of Allen, Washington and Nash are both seasoned pros ardor and vigilance never waver. Given that underpinning, Allen is free to roam as freely as he wishes on his own serviceable themes, Duke Pearson’s “Big Bertha”, the ballad “A Weaver Of Dreams”, the Gershwin brothers’ “Someone To Watch Over Me”, John Coltrane’s “Miles Mode”, Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” and Charles Mingus’ “Jelly Roll”.

Just Like Magic is an astute and pleasing trio date, trimly recorded at the esteemed Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.


Celebrating Sonny Greenwich

released 01 May 2019
Almus Jazz (ALM 17711)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Miles Black (guitar)
  • Steve Holy (bass)
  • Dave Robbins (drums)
  1. Fountainebleau
  2. I'll Follow You
  3. Memories Of Miles
  4. Remember When
  5. Gentle Soul
  6. Just Beneath The Surface
  7. Believe
Purchase Album

Bob’s Piano

released 10 January 2017
Almus Jazz (ALM 16306)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Miles Black (piano - tracks 1-6)
  • Bob Murphy (piano - tracks 7-10)
  1. Nothing Changes
  2. Detour Ahead
  3. And You Become The Moonlight
  4. Monique
  5. Dance Of The Epiphytes
  6. Murph's Turf
  7. Stella By Starlight
  8. Wave
  9. Embraceable You
  10. Carnivorous Tendencies
Purchase Album

Review


Bob’s Piano CD Review
by Ted Quinlan | The WholeNote Magazine

Bob’s Piano
Mike Allen; Miles Black; Bob Murphy
Almus Jazz ALM 16306 (mikeallenjazz.com)
Saxophonist Mike Allen’s Bob’s Piano is a remarkable tribute to one of Canada’s best and most inventive jazz pianists. Bob Murphy, who passed away in 2015, forged a long career, primarily in his native Vancouver, and mentored a generation of musicians along the way. The origin of the recording is a series of duets that the pianist recorded in his home. Never intended for release, they were recovered after Murphy’s death and became the basis of this unique and intimate album. Miles Black, another excellent Vancouver pianist, is heard with Allen on the record’s first six tracks. Playing on Murphy’s piano, he manages to reflect the spirit of its owner while maintaining his own distinct voice. Kenny Wheeler’s Nothing Changes sets the tone with the kind of intuitive interplay between Allen and Black that epitomizes this style of jazz. Allen’s burnished tone and understated approach mesh perfectly with Black’s melodicism, the two soloing as one at times. And You Become the Moonlight, a Murphy composition, features tenor and piano playing pleasantly twisting unison lines on the melody then seguing seamlessly from one solo to the next. Murphy himself makes an appearance on the final four tracks, beginning with a fresh take on the classic Stella by Starlight. His singular touch on the instrument, expansive time feel and boundless imagination are immediately apparent as his improvised counterpoint lines develop on Allen’s loose and inspired interpretation of the melody. Bob’s Piano is a delight to listen to and an important glimpse into one of our country’s greatest and perhaps under-sung musical heroes.


The Feel Of Life

released 28 April 2014
Almus Jazz (ALM 16147)
  • Mike Allen (soprano sax)
  • Miles Black (piano)
  1. You Must Believe In Spring
  2. Some Enchanted Evening
  3. San Miguel
  4. I Wish I Knew
  5. Say It (Over And Over Again)
  6. Stardust
  7. Nature Boy
  8. Lush Life
Purchase Album

Review


The Feel Of Life CD Review
by David Altic | Independent Writer

An actual feel gets conjured that returns for me the two classic ballad albums of years ago - Coltrane Plays for Lovers and Gene Ammons’ Gentle Jug. The same unforced and tireless beauty. It’s something you’d think would be encountered often, but you absolutely don’t. Effort and desire and manipulation are constant. The ability to trust and let be is too rare. We don’t have the talent to allow things their say. It’s hard won and never simply reached. It’s a climb attempted again and again. A matter of regaining innocence and courage.

Really a lovely go - not just the restraint, but the putting forth of essence. The deep sense of love that fools silence and obscure is present throughout.


Panorama

released 01 March 2014
Cellar Live (CL121013)
  • Mike Allen (tenor/soprano sax)
  • Hugh Fraser (trombone)
  • Miles Black (piano)
  • Adam Thomas (bass)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. Get Back
  2. Labyrinth
  3. Modalitee
  4. Two Summers
  5. Panorama
  6. Sun Shine
  7. The Ways Of Love
  8. Let Go Rise Atone
  9. San Miguel
  10. Sing Out
Purchase Album

Review


Panorama CD Review
by Stuart Broomer (for "Jazz, Eh?") | The Whole Note

Another Vancouver band that shows the positive effects of working regularly is the Mike Allen Quartet with pianist Miles Black, bassist Adam Thomas and drummer Julian MacDonough. Embracing a broad modernism, the group has hosted the official jam sessions of the Vancouver Festival for years and they’re also the jazz ensemble-in-residence at Western Washington University where saxophonist Allen directs the jazz program. On Panorama (Cellar Live CL 121013), trombonist Hugh Fraser, whose suave bluster has long graced Vancouver jazz, is the featured guest. Allen has his own sound, at once forceful and muffled, and it gives his work immediate dimension, but every musician here contributes to a consistent sense of substance. The opening Get Back may be playful jazz funk, but Allen’s Let Go Rise Atone and Black’s San Miguel are imbued with luminous depths.


Faculty Jazz Collective

released 14 April 2012
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM 15177)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Miles Black (piano & guitar)
  • Adam Thomas (bass & voice)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. Move Over Blues
  2. Lonely Avenue
  3. Mia Culpa
  4. Under A Moonlit Sky
  5. Big Bertha
  6. The Night We Called It A Day
  7. Klondike
  8. Everything Happens To Me
  9. India
Purchase Album

Review


Faculty Jazz Collective CD Review
by Kerilie McDowall | Rhythm’a’ning-CHLY 101.7 FM

It is no secret that Canadian tenor saxophonist and composer Mike Allen has been prolific in recent years releasing two impressive album projects both in 2012 and also 2014 with his popular Vancouver band. The double releases have resulted in three recent quartet albums and even a duo 2014 release on soprano with pianist Miles Black.

The album Faculty Jazz Collective shows great band interaction with the praiseworthy intuitive communication and interplay from one of the busiest jazz quartets in the Pacific Northwest. On this release, the Mike Allen Quartet is superbly enjoyable to listen to as always, with an album that reflects the innovative instructional work of Mike Allen and his quartet’s teaching on faculty at Western Washington University as the in house working/teaching band. Acclaimed Canadian saxophonist Mike Allen is the Director of Jazz Studies at Western Washington University where he works with talented young up and coming jazz musicians embarking on their professional careers. This 2012 recording is a project of the quartet as faculty members at WWU.

The opening fun track “Move Over Blues” from talented pianist, guitarist and composer Miles Black, features saxophonist powerhouse Mike Allen and his band for an uplifting and positive moment. Gifted bassist and vocalist Adam Thomas treats us to some passionate vocal performances on “Lonely Avenue”, “Under A Moonlit Sky, “The Night We Called It A Day” and “Everything Happens To Me”. With drummer extraordinaire and long time quartet member American Julian McDonough in the drum chair, the quartet and Thomas get a perfect feel going and you will be impressed with bassist/vocalist Thomas’ heartfelt approach.

Saxophonist and bandleader Allen is a creative composer of songs and his compositions ”Klondike” and “Mia Culpa” reflect the exemplary strength of his writing and melodic interpretation. Allen’s writing offers up thoughtful musical reflection with adventurous exploration and expressive intensity on the saxophone, while the band responds with a sublime flow of interactive musical conversation.

An especially favourite track to watch out for is the Mike Allen Quartet’s exquisite arrangement and performance of John Coltrane’s “India”. When Allen alludes to and interprets Coltrane on this track, the moment is magical.

The honest approach and Allen’s spirit and impassioned sound come through powerfully on Faculty Jazz Collective with much soul from saxophonist Allen and his quartet. I suggest buying both of the Mike Allen Quartet releases from 2012 to sample the fuller range and scope of the band’s work. The Mike Allen Quartet’s Faculty Jazz Collective is once again another fine MAQ recording of some beautifully impressive west coast jazz.


A Hip Cosmos

released 30 March 2012
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM 14722)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Miles Black (piano)
  • Adam Thomas (bass)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. The Lonelymaker
  2. Give Me Moon
  3. Unvisited Corners
  4. Oceans Under Europa
  5. Love And Dark Matter
  6. Forest Mills
  7. Once Again, Thank You
Purchase Album

Review


A Hip Cosmos CD Review
by Kerilie McDowall | Rhythm'a'ning-CHLY 101.7FM

A Hip Cosmos - Art of Spirit                                                  

The Mike Allen Quartet’s 2012 impressive release A Hip Cosmos is a profound and moving series of creative and masterful compositions written by acclaimed Vancouver tenor saxophonist Mike Allen with a gorgeous closing composition from quartet pianist and composer Miles Black. The intuitive interplay from the quartet is adventurous and the moods that the group and Allen create make for some dramatic and exquisite jazz improvisation. This album is a soothing and nurturing album worthy of repeated listens and it quickly became a 2012 Rhythm’a’ning radio show favorite of mine.

As a radio producer, after the first listen to the album I was struck by the soulful and beautifully lyrical content on the entire album and the timeless and admirably grand nature of the music. Mike Allen conveys artful melodies and harmonies within his compositional writing and he is a tireless creative explorer. The quartet improvisation and compositions are divine and make for a transcendent musical exploration of the sacred. The playing on A Hip Cosmos is an honest from the heart approach with a nod towards the spiritual musical work of the venerated master and legend John Coltrane.

Getting into the realm of the cosmic, songs on A Hip Cosmos like “Oceans Under Europa”, “Love and Dark Matter” and “Give Me Moon” showcase Allen’s writing and tribute to a harmonious universe. The organic flow of Allen’s and Black’s compositional writing allows the album to unfold naturally and provide for some superior recordings. The musicians are telepathic in the way that they communicate and interact with one another after many years of performing and recording together. A Hip Cosmos is a CHLY 101.7 FM Rhythm’a’ning favorite Canadian jazz album that listeners will want to revisit and return to often.


Threads

released 23 July 2007
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM14202)
  • Mike Allen (tenor & alto sax)
  • George McFetridge (piano)
  1. Separate Beings
  2. Offhand
  3. Back On Track
  4. Juaziero
  5. Unmistakably Monk
  6. January
  7. Sheep Island
  8. Endemic
  9. Is It Ever Enough?
  10. Breaking
Purchase Album

Review


Threads CD Review
by Joseph Blake | Coda

Tenor saxophonist Mike Allen was a student of Joe Henderson and Joe Lovano. He’s assimilated most of the advances made by John Coltrane to carve out his own melodic, muscular sound. On this ten-song date of original compositions shared equally with his long-time bandmate, pianist George McFetridge, the duo uncorks a series of probing, spirited performances.

Allen’s always purposeful, robust tenor is married perfectly to McFetridge’s equally daring, lyrical piano. Their intuitive grace is breathtaking. From angular art song readings like McFetridge’s “Offhand” to fresh, surprise-filled ballads like Allen’s “Sheep Island” and McFetridge’s “Juaziero”, the duo combine to produce some wide-ranging, in-the-moment magic.

Echoes of Coltrane and earlier masters ripple through Allen’s playing on his original, “Back On Track”, the pianist following him like a shadow with its own playful sense of invention. They’ve been playing together for a decade, and you can hear their closeness on every note on Threads.


Vancouver

released 02 June 2007
Almus Jazz (ALM14302)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Chris Gestrin (piano)
  • Adam Thomas (bass & voice)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. A City In Love
  2. Peyton's Gastown Walkabout
  3. Walk In The Rain
  4. Grouse Grind
  5. There Were Fireworks (I Do Recall)
  6. Robson Strut
  7. Restless Night
  8. Christmas Without Snow
  9. The Wise Heron Of English Bay
  10. Inlet Outlook
Purchase Album

Review


Vancouver CD Review
by Roger Mills | Entertainment News Northwest

The vitality and competence of the jazz scene in Vancouver, B.C. is a well-documented fact, and here, in 10 great original tracks recorded at the Birch Theatre in Vancouver, is some of the proof. Mike Allen, an incredible, award-winning tenor sax talent, has just released his latest effort, simply entitled Vancouver. Joining Mike on this CD is a trio of some of the best jazz players around: Chris Gestrin on piano, Adam Thomas on bass and vocals, and Julian MacDonough on drums. Together, this quartet produces a mellow, intelligent sound that re-defines the phrase “easy listening.” Smooth and fluid, with appropriate dynamic versatility, these tunes wind their way into your soul. Mike Allen can play a tenor saxophone. All of it. His solos are impeccable, purposeful, and melodic. He uses every part of the horn’s range to great advantage, taming the upper notes well and letting the lower notes “squawk” appropriately for that wonderful raspy sound only the tenor sax can make. His fingers move faster than my mind can think, sometimes, and I sit in awe (check out Robson’s Strut). He supports his fellow players well when needed, adding just the right riff in just the right spot. A major talent. Although Allen is responsible for the lion’s share of the songwriting, each of the four has their hands in the mix. Of special note here are the three tunes written and sung by bassist Thomas. His haunting melodies and perfect-for-the-occasion voice are a real treat, and some of the highlights of the recording. “Walk in the Rain” is also a real showcase for Allen and his sax, and “There Were Fireworks” is my favorite of Thomas’ contributions. This reviewer’s love affair with the drumming of Julian MacDonough continues. No surprise that Mike Allen came south of the border for ‘hamster Julian’s rare talent. Perhaps a bit subdued in the mix for my tastes, Julian none-the-less shines through with solid performances. The real backbone of all musical situations I’ve seen him in, Julian’s rhythmic subdivisions defy description to all but the most knowledgeable, but just keep your foot tapping and you’ll find him “right there”. He sure gets the most out of a set of drums! Add to all of this the steady fill of Gestrin’s piano, smoothly doing just what is needed to keep a good forward flow to the sound, and you have a very special effort here. Vancouver is a CD worth adding to any collection, and that can be done by going to Mike’s web site, mikeallenjazz.com, and following the links. Enjoy!


Love One Another

released 02 June 2005
Almus Jazz (ALM14062)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Bruno Hubert (piano)
  • Sean Cronin (bass)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. Her Ascendancy
  2. The Power Of Observation
  3. Luna Crescente
  4. In A World Of Their Own
  5. The Best For Me
  6. Same Old Feeling
  7. Something For Tony
  8. Love One Another
Purchase Album

Review


Love One Another CD Review
by Geoff Chapman | The Toronto Star

The classy Vancouver tenor saxman has a sure-handed technique that lets him do it all, employing warmth, muscle, surprising twists and a beautiful sound that suits both burners and ballads. He’s written eight tunes for his seventh album as leader, recorded last July, and they also bring out the best in long-time piano colleague Bruno Hubert and the tight, ticking rhythmic engine of bassist Sean Cronin and drummer Julian MacDonough. The sidemen slither in and out of the limelight but it’s the questing Allen who makes listeners attentive, inspiring memories of Joe Henderson when he cruises effortlessly through melodic improv. The mood’s rugged on “Same Old Feeling”, reflective on “In A World Of Their Own”, and always interesting in a fine follow-up to his Fealess album.


Fearless

released 01 August 2004
Almus Jazz (ALM12552)
  • Mike Allen (tenor/alto/soprano sax)
  • George McFetridge (piano)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  • Adam Thomas (bass-tracks 5, 7)
  • Paul Rushka (bass-all other tracks)
  1. Fearless
  2. The Man
  3. Let Your Heart Sing
  4. John Robbins
  5. Crystallized
  6. Until It's Over
  7. From A Different Angle
  8. Mingus Jump
Purchase Album

Review


Fearless CD Review
by Lyle Rebbeck | Medicine Hat News

Allen writes all but one of the pieces for this recording. His writing is intelligent, melodic and always beautiful. Several tunes on this CD are very reflective and sedate in pace - truly gorgeous and moving. But when the group wants to cook, they can fly with the best of them. These pieces sound like they could be part of the jazz standards repertoire.

The trio is joined by pianist George McFetridge who integrates very well into this group; one that is used to performing as a piano-less, guitar-less trio. He provides that harmonic pad that is always implied in the trio, but does so in a very sparse and un-obtrusive manner, so the original spirit of the Mike Allen Trio is kept intact.


Dialectic

released 01 April 2003
Almus Jazz (ALM11092)
  • Mike Allen (tenor & soprano sax)
  • Paul Rushka (bass)
  • Julian MacDonough (drums)
  1. 'Nette's 'Cept
  2. Simone
  3. Everytime We Say Goodbye
  4. Bessie's Blues
  5. One Side Of A Circle
  6. 'Round Midnight
  7. Until It's Over
  8. Wiser Than I
  9. Your Kind Brings Joy
Purchase Album

Review


Dialectic CD Review
by Irwin Block | The Montreal Gazette

Mike Allen, a mainstay of the local scene from 1985 to 1995 and now based in Vancouver, has developed a mature sound on tenor sax that reflects influences from John Coltrane to Sonny Rollins and Joe Lovano.  Clear phrasing, a bold, confident tone, and a penchant for lyrical excursions mark his playing in this highly listenable CD.  It may not reach the creative levels of those giants, but the interplay with Paul Rushka on bass and Julian MacDonough on drums is remarkable.  The CD opens with a fast-paced Nette’s Cept, an original and convincing nod to Ornette Coleman’s legacy.  Frank Foster’s bluesy Simone gets a moody treatment.  Allen takes the soprano sax for a lilting version of the standard Everytime We Say Goodbye, while his reading of Bessie’s Blues reflects his own muted colours, more restrained than Coltrane’s.  It’s back to the soprano on Allen’s own One Side Of A Circle - one of five originals - which best reflects the dancing dialectic he pursues in this warm and thoughtful outing.


Change Is

released 01 August 2000
Maximum Jazz (MAX-0065)
  • Mike Allen (tenor sax)
  • Darren Radtke (bass)
  • Dave Robbins (drums)
  1. Love Walked In
  2. The Difference Between Us
  3. Falling From Grace
  4. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
  5. Your Time Will Come
  6. Donna Maria
  7. One Up Man Ship
  8. At The Mark
  9. Blues O Mighty
  10. Streetcar Named Desire
Purchase Album

Review


Change Is CD Review
by David Franklin | Cadence Magazine

Sonny Rollins proved that tenor/bass/drums trio would work and Canadian tenorist Mike Allen’s Change Is, is yet one more verification of its effectiveness. Indeed, Allen’s own style owes a debt to 1950’s Rollins, although Allen’s tone lacks Rollins’ huskiness and his playing doesn’t quite reach Rollins’ intensity level. Instead, in this mix of standards and originals, ranging from quiet ballads to exhilarating up-tunes, the tenorist demonstrates a big but smooth sound throughout the range of his horn and generally approaches the material in a comparatively subdued manner. Drummer Dave Robbins’ frequent use of his brushes serves to reinforce the calm ambiance. A notable exception, however, is Robbins’ own “At the Mark” on which he brings out the sticks and sets the leader up for his most impassioned work on the album.

Through thoughtful interaction of the three instruments, including the frequent use of Darren Radtke’s bass as a second melodic voice, the ensemble keeps the music interesting, thereby avoiding the most common pitfall associated with groups lacking a chordal instrument. And it helps that Allen’s improvisations swing effortlessly and eschew stock cliches in favor of more inventive phraseology. Drummer Robbins keeps solid time and whether using sticks or brushes, makes his own contribution to the rhythmic interest of the proceedings.


One Side Of A Circle

released 01 May 1999
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM 003)
  • Mike Allen (Tenor Sax)
  • Brad Turner (Trumpet & Flugelhorn)
  • Dave Say (Tenor Sax)
  • Jill Townsend (Trombone)
  • Bill Coon (Guitar)
  • Miles Black (Piano)
  • Darren Radtke (Bass)
  • Dave Robbins (Drums)
  1. Live To Know
  2. Profit And Suffering
  3. For André
  4. Everything You Are
  5. Rollins' Roots
  6. One Side Of A Circle
  7. The Unthinkable
  8. A Friendly Imposition
Purchase Album

One Step Closer

released 01 January 1997
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM 002)
  • Mike Allen (Tenor Sax)
  • Brad Turner (Trumpet & Flugelhorn)
  • Miles Black (Piano)
  • André Lachance (Bass)
  • Dylan van der Schyff (Drums)
  1. One Step Closer
  2. I Hear A Rhapsody
  3. Switchback
  4. Invitation
  5. Morning On Carmine Street
  6. Milestones
  7. Body And Soul
  8. Down The Line
Purchase Album

Quintet/Quartet

released 01 August 1995
ALMUS JAZZ (ALM 001)
  • Mike Allen (Tenor Sax)
  • Ben Charest (Guitar)
  • Tilden Webb (Piano)
  • Alec Walkington (Bass)
  • Dave Robbins (Drums)
  • David Grott (Trombone)
  • Doug Weiss (Bass)
  • Marc Miralta (Drums)
  1. One Side Of A Circle
  2. Luna Crescente
  3. Blues On The Corner
  4. Then There Was You
  5. Something For Tony
  6. Nette's Cept
  7. Wiser Than I
  8. Your Kind Brings Joy
  9. In A World Of Their Own
Purchase Album