Harry Allen ‘Something About Jobim’ (Stunt) 4/5

Relatively unknown to some, and now reaching fifty years of age, tenorist Harry Allen recorded this one-off recording in Brooklyn, but it immediately conjurs up summer days in Rio de Janeiro and features an all-Brazilian band for some much needed authenticity. Why yet another Jobim tribute album? This one differs from the usual fare in that it focuses on the lesser known repertoire and in mood remains squarely in ballad territory and thus largely avoids the bossa nova clichés trap that so many non-Brazilian musicians have fallen into. A real surprise is that both Joyce and husband and drummer Tutty Moreno are on board and make a significant contribution. Joyce in fact contributes her vocals to three songs including ‘Theme for Jobim’ where she adds Brazilian Portugese lyrics to the instrumental composed by Gerry Mulligan as well as performing on guitar elsewhere.Unquestionably Stan Getz and his exploration of Brazilian music has influenced Allen, but he has a strong enough voice in his won right to stamp his own imprint on the project, and among others Allen. has recorded with Ray Brown, Kenny Burrell, Hank Jones and Rosemary Clooney, but more importantly to this project Brazilian compose and singer Dori Caymmi. Nothing moves out of second gear tempo-wise, but ‘Mojave’ is a outstanding piece with mood bassline and ‘Captain Bacardi’ features some inventive guitar and piano vamps and makes for an understated samba-jazz groove.

From the songs selected, ‘Chovendo na Roseira’ is interpreted as a gently uplifting piece with Joyce adding her distinctive voice, while ‘Theme for Jobim’ is a lovely ballad with sensitive piano accompaniment from Helio Alves who is excellent throughout. Alves performed with the late great Joe Henderson and in a Lain music context with Cuban reedist Paquito D’Rivera and is at ease here. The rhythm section as a whole operates as a tight cohesive whole with fine work from bassist Rodolfo Stroeter and drummer Moreno.

Of regular note on the Stunt albums is the consistently creative artwork by http://www.yellow1.dk/ Well worth viewing the covers and gatefold sleeves. Harry Allen is especially popular in Japan where he has won no less than three Gold Disc awards from the prestigious Swing Jazz Magazine.

Tim Stenhouse