Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Live in Old Lyme + A Bassist's Journey

Okay, so I'm a bit crazy when it comes to drummer Rudy Royston.  He's one of those players who plays with great fire but rarely does he upstage the leader.  He's been working and recording with tenor saxophonist J D Allen since 2008's "I Am I Am" (Sunnyside Records) and, along with bassist Gregg August, they are a formidable saxophone trio. Allen released 3 CDs of original material with the rhythm section between 2008 - 2012 and then organized a brand-new new ensemble - a quartet featuring Hartford natives Dezron Douglas on bass (for the 2013 sessions) and  Jonathan Barber on drums - that recorded his 2013 and 2014 Savant releases, "Grace" and "Bloom".

The Trio is now back together and they are coming to The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme this Friday evening. They are celebrating the recent release (May 19) of their 4th adventure together.  "Graffiti" (Savant - you can access the title track below) is an excellent CD, 9 Allen originals that explore the blues and modern jazz roots in his music.  The influence of John Coltrane is noticeable throughout but especially on the album's opening track, "Naked",  a raucous duet for tenor sax and drums. August is no slouch - his bluesy phrases on "Sonny Boy" echo the work of Charles Mingus while the leader romps through the piece.

Mr Allen, Mr August and Mr Royston will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. (the doors open an hour earlier) and, rest assured, they will take the stage.  Many people believe the best creative music is interactive and the J D Allen trio plays together with great energy and gusto. Best call 860-434-0886 for reservations (I know this is late notice but do it anyway.)

J D Allen, amazingly, does not have a website but you can get information and find out where else the Trio is playing by going to !!!!(Author's Note: Jan from The Side Door set me straight - the saxophonist does have a website.  Go to!!!!

Here's the title track from the new CD:

NY Times
On Saturday evening, Jan and Ken welcome back trumpeter and composer Jeremy Pelt to The Side Door. This time, the former Hartt School Professor brings his acoustic ensemble, 4/5ths of whom appear on his 2015 HighNote CD "Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries".  Besides Pelt, the group coming to Old Lyme includes New Haven native Ben Allison (bass), veteran drummer Victor Lewis and the fine young Italian-born pianist Simona Premazzi (drummer Billy Drummond was the other musician featured on the CD).

The new recording is mighty impressive, filled with strong melodies, excellent improvisations and interactions, and exciting solos.  Pelt is a generous leader, not hogging the solo spotlight. The program features 5 original pieces plus reworkings of Clifford Jordan's "Glass Bead Games", Wayne Shorter's "Vonetta" and Jimmy Van Heusen's sweet ballad "I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her".

The Quartet plays its first note at 8:30 p.m. For more information and reservations, go to or call 860-434-0886.

To find out more about Jeremy Pelt, go to

Here's a piece from the new recording:

Bassist and composer Petros Klampanis is a native of Greece (from the island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea) - he came to the United States in 2008 to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York City.  He stayed and has been working fairly steadily ever since. One of the musicians he worked with was saxophonist Greg Osby who quickly signed the bassist to his Inner Circle Music label.  In 2011, his debut CD "Contextual" showed him to be a fine bassist, a quickly-maturing composer and creative arranger.  His duo with vocalist Gretchen Parlato on Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" is quite delightful.

His new Inner Circle recording, "Minor Disputes", features Jean-Michel Pilc (piano), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), and John Hadfield (drums, percussion) plus percussionist Bodek Janke, a string quartet, and Max ZT who plays the Persian hammered dulcimer known as the santuri.  The music covers a lot of territory; the title track, for instance, opens the program as a quiet ballad with lovely piano and guitar work (with the strings swirling around them ,then drops into an infectious rhythmical treat. "March of the Sad Ones" has a bluesy edge, with strong work from Hekselman, an excellent string arrangement, whisper-soft percussion and melodic bass phrases. "Ferry Frenzy" is the East River version of "Parisian Thoroughfare", the speedy melody lines stopping for strong to get on board before pitching forward. The final track, "Thalassaki", uses a traditional Greek melody as its basis. Once again, the guitarist contributes a forceful solo (with a sound that resembles a bouzouki) over a subdued yet propulsive rhythm section. Here, as he does throughout the program, Klampanis creates a string arrangement that is more than mere decoration but an intrinsic part of the song.

Petros Klampanis is not only an exceptional bassist (his tone is rich without being cloying) but also on his way to becoming an impressive arranger.  The music on "Minor Disputes" has moments of great beauty and musicality, a journey home to the composer's roots but also a glimpse into his odyssey.  For more information, go to

Here's an alternate arrangement of "Thalassaki" (without the string quartet):

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