10 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Tenor saxophonist JD Allen’s third album, I Am I Am, is a subtle stunner. Allen, who has worked with Betty Carter, Lester Bowie, and Frank Foster, leads a trio on this 2008 release. John Coltrane’s influence is strongly felt, but Allen has created a distinctive disc with its very own vibe. (Sonny Rollins’ late ’50s classic, Freedom Suite, also comes to mind.) There’s a sense of cool yet expressive concision, and finely shaped melodies abound. The band — Allen, bassist Gregg August, and drummer Rudy Roylston — works like a telepathic unit whether they’re playing free or swinging fiercely. All the players have honed timbres; it’s a delight to hear the warm bass tones, just-right cymbal hits, and full-bodied sax tones that fill the air. The music is so sharply focused that sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s composed and what’s improvised. Two of the best cuts, the title track and “The Cross + The Crescent Sickle,” are tinged with Middle Eastern sounds, while a Latin groove colors “Louisada.” I Am I Am closes strongly with “Pagan,” a triple meter burner that is followed by an uncredited impressionistic piece.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Tenor saxophonist JD Allen’s third album, I Am I Am, is a subtle stunner. Allen, who has worked with Betty Carter, Lester Bowie, and Frank Foster, leads a trio on this 2008 release. John Coltrane’s influence is strongly felt, but Allen has created a distinctive disc with its very own vibe. (Sonny Rollins’ late ’50s classic, Freedom Suite, also comes to mind.) There’s a sense of cool yet expressive concision, and finely shaped melodies abound. The band — Allen, bassist Gregg August, and drummer Rudy Roylston — works like a telepathic unit whether they’re playing free or swinging fiercely. All the players have honed timbres; it’s a delight to hear the warm bass tones, just-right cymbal hits, and full-bodied sax tones that fill the air. The music is so sharply focused that sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s composed and what’s improvised. Two of the best cuts, the title track and “The Cross + The Crescent Sickle,” are tinged with Middle Eastern sounds, while a Latin groove colors “Louisada.” I Am I Am closes strongly with “Pagan,” a triple meter burner that is followed by an uncredited impressionistic piece.

TITLE TIME
3:36
3:50
3:50
5:06
3:38
2:59
3:31
4:48
5:19
8:22

Songs

Albums

Listeners Also Played