"Bassist Allison wrote only one of the pieces on his tenth full-length, but his guitar-and-keyboard-driven versions of works by Donny Hathaway, Samuel Barber, PJ Harvey and others felt wholly personal, like an ingeniously curated gallery exhibit."
In the second in a series of personal, behind-the-scenes, and rehearsal videos during his debut year at Carnegie Hall, Ben Allison introduces a second key member of the band that will play on February 3—percussionist Rogerio Boccato—and expands on his philosophy of jazz composition and performance.
"The bassist Ben Allison — also known as a great composer — has been gradually merging this personal history into his jazz training. It hits a high-water mark with Action-Refraction, an album of covers . . ."
In our ongoing series that showcases his journey and experience of making a Carnegie Hall debut, bassist Ben Allison expands on the concept of jazz as a social music, where fellow musicians are crucial to the composing process.
Drummer Paul Motian was one of my favorite musicians of all time. I heard him at the Vanguard and Visiones in NYC many times in the mid to late 1980s - the Trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. One of my most enduring memories is of him hitting his cymbals hard at the end of the last tune of the last set, jumping up from his kit and heading out the door of the club just as the ring of the cymbal died away.
It didn't feel disrespectful. For me it was just part of the show. He was mysterious. He had an almost child-like way of playing that belied his incredible depth and complexity as a musician.
Here are some of my favorite records of his as a leader and with Keith Jarrett's American quartet of the 1970s (all of which I have on vinyl):
Conception Vessel The Story of Maryam Psalm Tribute Misterioso
With the Keith Jarrett Quartet:
Mysteries Treasure Island Fort Yawuh Shades El Juicio Mourning of a Star Birth Expectations Byablue Bop-Be
Music writer Willard Jenkins recently polled a number of musicians, asking for their thoughts about music journalism. For the next few weeks he'll be posting the responses on his blog. My take is featured this week: www.openskyjazz.com
Here's a short lesson I wrote for Premier Guitar Magazine on groove. It's geared towards musicians but hopefully could be appreciated by anyone with an interest in how musicians think about rhythm. Read it here
I'm honored and humbled to be included in this list of great bassists by Downbeat Magazine in their annual Critics Poll.
Dave Holland 112 Christian McBride 84 Charlie Haden 58 Esperanza Spalding 48 Gary Peacock 35 William Parker 31 Ben Allison 26 Ron Carter 25 John Patitucci 21 Larry Grenadier 20 Robert Hurst 20 François Moutin 15 Avishai Cohen 14 Charnett Moffett 14 George Mraz 14
I'm not sure I'm worthy but I thank the critics who voted for me. It feels good to have your work recognized. I especially love the idea of celebrating the genius of these incredible musicians. I had the chance to hear Christian play a blues with my friend, drummer Matt Wilson a few months ago and I have to say that it was one of the most amazing things I've heard this year. It's fantastic to hear Christian's complex and fluid ideas spill out and become reality in such a seemingly effortless way. Charlie Haden and Dave Holland are two of my biggest inspirations, both as bassists and as band leaders and composers. Congrats to Charlie on his recent NEA Jazz Masters award.
Action-Refraction has been picked by the editors of NPR Music as one of their 25 favorite albums of 2011 (so far), joining great records by Bon Iver, Adele, Jill Scott, and Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal. Read the feature here