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Love Songs Live!

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Album Review

One of the more impressive "Young Lions" to come out of straight-ahead jazz in the 1990s was Harry Allen, a tenor saxophonist with a breathy, appealing tone along the lines of Stan Getz, Lester Young, and Zoot Sims. Allen (who shouldn't be confused with the hip-hop journalist) is no innovator; although Love Songs Live! was recorded live in different parts of Europe from 1993-1996, it recycles the jazz of the 1940s and 1950s. But there's no law stating that every jazz musician who comes along has to be an innovator; jazz has room for both innovators and traditionalists, and Allen is definitely an example of the latter. As its title indicates, this German release is a collection of live performances of ballads. Most of the time, Allen turns his attention to standards that jazz fans have heard time and time again, including "Stardust," "Every Time We Say Goodbye," "But Beautiful," and Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," and one can't help but wish that he would surprise us occasionally and make some less obvious choices. Instead of giving the jazz world yet another version of "Sweet Lorraine," how about surprising listeners with some gems that haven't been done to death? But Allen plays so soulfully and has such an appealing tone that one is inclined to be forgiving. All things considered, this pleasing, if predictable, collection paints an attractive picture of the Young Lion.


Born: 12 October 1966 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Fathers serious about seeing their sons one day becoming famous athletes begin developing their offspring's skills at a very young age. In the case of Harry Allen's father, who was a big-band drummer, he played jazz records each day for Harry before he went off to kindergarten. Starting off with accordion lessons, there was a fortuitous switch to saxophone later. Attending Rutgers University, Allen studied saxophone with Sahib Shihab, Bob Mintzer, and John Purcell. In 1989, he graduated from Rutgers...
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Love Songs Live!, Harry Allen
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