13 June 2013

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.