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Little Things Run the World

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Album Review

From 1992 to 2004, bassist Ben Allison was an important part of the Jazz Composers Collective, and although that organization later became dormant, it is appropriate to think of him somewhat more as a composer than as a player. Like Charles Mingus, he is more interested in writing music than in seeking outlets for himself as a musician. (And, like Mingus, that doesn't make him any less of an accomplished bass player.) This point is worth making at the start of an assessment of Little Things Run the World, Allison's album as part of a group he has dubbed Man Size Safe. (It seems that Vice President Dick Cheney has what The Washington Post called a "man size safe" in his office.) The group also includes Ron Horton (another alumnus of the Jazz Composers Collective on trumpet and flugelhorn), Steve Cardenas (electric guitar), and Michael Sarin (drums), with a third Jazz Composers Collective member, Michael Blake, guesting on tenor and soprano saxophone. It is apparent immediately that Allison is presenting these pieces largely as compositions, although he of course allows room for his fellow musicians to improvise. The tracks are compositionally well developed, with strong melodies. Allison only puts himself forward as a soloist on the songs he did not write, Cardenas' Burt Bacharach-influenced "Language of Love" and a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." The music is often reminiscent of Miles Davis in his cool jazz period, particularly because of Horton's demonstrated affection for the sound of his predecessor. But this album is largely an execution of the work of a jazz composer, as opposed to being another small-band jazz album; other jazz musicians should look to Allison for tunes.


Born: 17 November 1966 in New Haven, CT

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A versatile acoustic bassist/composer with an adventurous spirit, Ben Allison has often excelled in jazz settings but has leaned toward more eclectic rock- and funk-oriented sounds on his own albums. The East Coast native was only nine when he began studying music, and he was 22 when, in 1989, he graduated from New York University with a B.A. in jazz performance. In 1992, Allison founded the Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run nonprofit organization that encouraged artists to take risks and...
Full bio
Little Things Run the World, Ben Allison
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  • £6.32
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 22 January 2008

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