Harry Allen — and the people he chooses to improvise with — sets such a consistently high standard that I think listeners might unintentionally take him for granted. This would be a mistake. Ask any musician of any school or style if what is seen in the videos below is easy or unremarkable.
This session took place at the 2012 Atlanta Jazz Party, where brilliance flourished in the most genial surroundings. Harry took the stage on Friday evening, April 20, 2012, with Chuck Redd (vibraphone); Rossano Sportiello (piano); Frank Tate (string bass); Ed Metz (drums). Most of us thought we knew what was coming — swing, ballads, something Latin — but we didn’t know what Harry and Company had in mind. While it was happening, I sat amazed. “They’re not stopping,” I thought. “My goodness, how long can they keep this up?” You will see that Harry and his colleagues slid from one song to the other (much in the manner of Ruby Braff, who loved to join a ballad to a swinger for dramatic effect) for thirty-six minutes.
The songs? IMAGINATION; I’M OLD-FASHIONED; LESTER LEAPS IN; BLUES; BODY AND SOUL.
My video is in two parts for mechanical reasons only: I feared that YouTube would have trouble ingesting and uploading my HD video, full of information, that was over a half-hour. So I stopped filming, took a breath, and started again.
I think the results are marvelous. No strain, no histrionics, no flagpole-sitting or showing-off. Just perpetual motion in Swing.
Here’s the first part:
The closing fourteen minutes plus:
Why did Harry choose to play his set in this fashion? Because he could? Because it was fun? Because it got the most music into his allotted time? I don’t know. But it certainly was an achievement!
May your happiness increase.