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The Stars Look Very Different Today

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iTunes Review

At a glance, the instrumentation on bassist Ben Allison’s The Stars Look Very Different Today—two guitars, bass, drums—brings to mind a rock band. (However, Allison does play acoustic bass.) The album’s title makes a rock reference; it comes from a lyric on David Bowie’s 1969 song “Space Oddity.” And the music often sounds like instrumental rock. But Allison (who has played with Lee Konitz, Larry Goldings, and Steven Bernstein) is primarily considered a jazz musician. More fundamentally, he's a composer who improvises and draws inspiration from various genres. The groove, ambiance, and drama of “Neutron Star” create a vibe that recalls '90s post-rock. “The Ballad of Joe Buck” moves at a slow, triple-meter pace as Brandon Seabrook spins out inventive banjo lines. “Swiss Cheese D,” which first appeared on 2001’s Riding the Nuclear Tiger, buzzes with energy. Allison and drummer Allison Miller drive the band as Seabrook and Steve Cardenas coax all sorts of unconventional tones out of their guitars. Stars closes with the free improvisation “Improvisus.”

Customer Reviews

Genre busting recording, great interplay

Saw this band live at Dazzle jazz, and purchased the album after the concert. Ben and group obviously are having a lot of fun with this blend of straight ahead jazz, acid jazz, and liberally borrow from other genres. Brandon Seabrook is amazing on guitar and banjo, sounding at times like a blend of Bad Plus and John McLaughlin. Steve Cardenas adds the perfect counterpoint with a more traditional approach to jazz guitar, and also rocks out at times. Allison Miller's drumming propels the group along, and Ben Allison’s bass playing adds a groove and brings it all together. Highly recommended, and if you get the chance to see them live, do.

Instant Fave!

Just heard Ben on NPR and had to just get this. If your a fan of Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter or anything in that creative, funky & unique style, you will love this. Nuff said. : >

Beautiful, Surprising, and Definitely Ben Allison

There are only a handful of jazz artists that are willing to accept change as an essential part of what makes the style so fantastic. Ben Allison however embraces the present and creates a genre bending album.

This record is packed with music that cannot and should not be categorized into any type of box. It embraces modernism without sounding like "another modern jazz album."

The Stars Look Very Different Today is fresh in every way, instrumentation (TWO ELECTRIC guitars), composition, and even sound design. I would listen to this music in a jazz club, rock bars, or gigantic stadiums. Ben Allison could go anywhere.


Born: November 17, 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
The Stars Look Very Different Today, Ben Allison
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  • $7.92
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock
  • Released: Oct 22, 2013

Customer Ratings