One of the most prolific, thoughtful and consistent tenor saxophonists gracing the scene today, JD Allen, will release his long-awaited Ballad record, LOVE STONE (or Loves Tone!), on the Savant Recording label, June 15, 2018. A gorgeous collection of ballads harkening back to yesteryear and played with the subtlety and grace that has become the JD Allen signature sound. His most selfless album to date, JD’s goal was to simply make “beautiful music in an ugly ass world.” His only requirement ton himself, was to “play pretty”. With beauty in mind and at the forefront, this album is for the people and made especially for them in today’s crazy times. “I wanted to play as avant garde as I, myself, could get in today’s dark times by simply trying to play something beautiful.”
For a decade now, tenor saxophonist JD Allen has anchored his eponymous trio, supported by drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Gregg August. Allen’s ragged, searching tone is redolent of jazz’s blues heritage, and his playing reflects his pedigree as a grandson of the Delta, a son of Detroit, and a leader of modern jazz. The New York Times praised Allen’s “fearless approach to a formidable tradition.”
Love Stone features JDs long standing trio, known as “the three headed monster” (Burning Ambulance) plus special guest, guitarist Liberty Ellman (Henry Threadgill, Vijay Iyer) adding new colors to each ballad. The collection of ballads from the opening Tony Bennett classic, Stranger in Paradise, to the American Folk music ballad originating from Appalachia, “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies”, the album plays like a love letter to the listener that, in fact, JD included into his liner notes. His most personal statement to date, the artist wears his heart on his sleeve throughout this stunning collection.
“Originals didn’t feel like being original anymore,” explains JD Allen on why he took a departure to record a record filled with some of the most beautiful ballads ever written. “I had a desire to play like a singer and really incorporate some vocalist qualities into my playing this time. I really just wanted to try and play beautiful….no math and science….a great melody, great tone and instead of making a ‘musician’ record this time around, I decided to make this one FOR THE PEOPLE.”
“The spirit of serious jazz tenor saxophone endures in JD Allen.” –JAZZTIMES
JD has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, in The Atlantic, in The New York Times (on the blues) and hailed by one of JDs first champions, jazz critic Ben Ratliff as, “a tenor saxophonist with an enigmatic, elegant and hard-driving style,” JD Allen is one of the most thoughtful jazz saxophonists on the scene today. Winner of Downbeat, JazzTimes & NPRpolls in categories including NPR’s Best Jazz of the Year, Tenor Saxophonist of the Year, Composer of the Year and Rising Star of the Year and JJA WINNER Short Form Jazz News Documentary, Mario Lathan, for VICTORY! – The Making of JD Allen’s Victory in 2012. “For roughly a decade, the tenor saxophonist J. D. Allen has accomplished what is now a rarity in jazz: He has held together a trio without reshuffling its personnel — deepening a collective language and sharpening his voice as an improviser” (The New York Times). The Detroit natives apprenticeship has largely been in New York, where he has performed, recorded, and toured with legends running the gamut from Betty Carter andLawrence D. “Butch” Morris to contemporaries Meshell Ndegeocello. Since making a strong impression in his early years in New York and serving an invaluable tenure with Betty Carter, JD has come a long way – now fully possessed of his own sound. JD has appeared on WNYC’S Leonard Lopate Show, NPR’s Jazz Perspectives, WNYC’s Soundcheck, WKCR’s Musician’s Show and festivals and venues worldwide including headlining at New York’s Village Vanguard, Newport, Saratoga and Summerstage/Charlie Parker Jazz Festivals, among others. At the request of saxophone colossus, Sonny Rollins and filmmaker Dick Fontaine, JD was invited to open up ceremonies for the screening of the lauded, “Sonny Rollins – Beyond The Notes” at The 2013 Woodstock Film Festival to great acclaim. JD also appeared in Fontaine’s documentary on Betty Carter some 20 years ago. JD Allen performs regularly with his own trio and quartet, featuring guitarist Liberty Ellman.
Photo Credit: Bart Babinski