27 June 2011

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.