- Released: October 27, 2008
- Label: Sunny Side
JazzTimes - p.68
"A spiritual current that often evokes Coltrane runs throughout I AM I AM...the arrangements are focused, the melodies appealing."
- 1.I Am I Am
- 2.The North Star
- 7.The Cross & The Crescent Sickle
Personnel: J.D. Allen (tenor saxophone); Gregg August (bass guitar); Gerald Cleaver, Rudy Royston (drums).
Audio Mixer: Dan Fleisher.
J.D. Allen is a tenor saxophonist who clearly wears his influences on his sleeve, and is devoted to the sound that made Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane icons in modern jazz. While still developing his own voice on the instrument, Allen exudes a quiet confidence, stream of consciousness ideas, and solid sense of purpose for this recording in a sax-bass-drums trio setting, much like Rollins did in for his legendary Village Vanguard club date of 1957. A program of all originals written by Allen, the music is earthy and cool, heady, sophisticated and tactful, rarely moody, sober, or melancholy for any length. Most like Coltrane is the meditational and loose title cut, while "Hajile" is similarly liberal in the manner of Rollins. "Titus" takes a different tack, as its strident deliberate theme is akin to a theoretical, expansive march, the outstanding "Louisada" uses one note, hip tension and release, while the well swung "Id" sports a concurrent Latin and Asian feel. The hard waltz "Pagan" and out and out bopper "Ezekiel" close in on the classic Blue Note style, with Allen digging in and thrusting the melody forward. "The North Star" showcases Allen's largest emotional range, and expressing a Middle Eastern facet, "The Cross & The Crescent Sickle" juxtaposes Allen's Arabian theorem over the arco bass of Gregg August and choppy drumming courtesy of Rudy Royston. Allen's rhythm mates should be noted, as August has been leading his own groups in Latin and modern mainstream jazz, while Royston is quickly rising as a formidable power percussion source in New York City. Allen himself has seen his star rise steadily in the decade of the 2000s, and this recording shows he's on the verge of hitting his stride. ~ Michael G. Nastos