03.12.09Farrell Lowe - All About Jazz

By Farrell Lowe

Dave Allen's sophomore effort provides nine more of his original compositions to absorb and enjoy. Real and Imagined is filled to the brim with music that is an intricate and flowing tapestry of lyricism and cinematic environments. As a guitarist, Allen readily shows he is of the same pedigree as some of his peers (Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Ziesmer, Steve Cardenas) and, like his peers, he has a fully developed and mature approach to composition, technical command of his instrument, and the inspirational fortitude to pull wonderful music from the ensemble he has gathered for this recording.


In a Jazz Guitar Life interview Allen stated that “poetry has been a big influence and a big part of my life. It's what I turn to when I'm not busy with music. The qualities of rhythm, timbre, dynamics, form, and expression are very similar in both poetry and music. Film has always been an obsession of mine. Besides the usual reasons of just loving great cinematic storytelling, there is the rhythm and texture of film-making and editing and it's correlations to music. The paintings of Kandinsky, Dekooning, and many others have been a great inspiration as well. There is a lot of music to be found in their work." This seems to be an excellent description of the musical sensibilities that are manifest in this group of players. These pieces very often tell a story by the way the music flows, whether as an individual solo or as a collective ensemble voice. Each piece is like an aural painting or film in the way it slides across the psyche. Also, there is a dream-like quality to this music, but the compositions are strong vehicles that never lose their stability or solid musical values. This is music expertly played with fervor and verve.


Eight of the pieces are played by the full quartet, while “Intimate Distance" is a trio piece. It seems that this group has spent quite a lot of time playing together and it's obvious that each individual player is committed to bringing these pieces to life with the best they have to offer. Allen's warm guitar tone and Blake's more acidic tenor blend well together, and are distinct, but complimentary to each other. Ferber and Gress are a fluid and dynamic rhythmic team that brings depth and nuance to this music. Everyone is “in it," a fact that comes across pointedly throughout the proceedings.


Real and Imagined is a fine example of modern electric guitar playing and contemporary jazz composition.


Track Listing: Slipping Glimpser; Always Beginning; Musing; Mantra; Real and Imagined; Intimate Distance; Perpetuum Mobile; Playground (Part 1); Untold Story.
Personnel: Dave Allen: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor sax; Mark Ferber: drums; Drew Gress: bass.

08.12.08David Adler - Jazz Times Magazine


"Dave Allen is one of a number of spitfire jazz guitarists raising the bar on that ever-popular instrument. But Allen offers more than battle-ready chops—his Untold Stories and Real and Imagined are about original music, loftily conceived, with graceful melodic content and subtle rhythmic challenges. He’s got the pull to assemble world-class bands every time out."
- David Adler, Jazz Times Magazine

04.04.08Donald Elfman on Real and Imagined


Guitarist Dave Allen made his recording debut in
2006 with Untold Stories and Real and Imagined also
suggests new tales. The inspiration is evident from
from the opening tune, “Slipping Glimpser". Willem
de Kooning said, “...when I’m slipping, I say hey this
is interesting!... I’m really slipping most of the time,
into that glimpse. I’m like a slipping glimpser."
The title tune is particularly illustrative.
Somehow the members of the quartet - Allen, Gress,
saxophonist Seamus Blake and drummer Mark Ferber
- seem to be simultaneously anchoring a tune that
drifts in and out of shape. And even when it seems
close to falling off the edge, it recovers with startling
clarity. It begins in the real - with a quietly pulsing
theme that evolves into more dreamlike figures as
Allen punches, in union with Gress, some mysterious
single notes. The musicians quietly buoy each other
until Ferber’s drums fade them out.

Gress seems to help propel much of this music,
understanding Allen’s vision and effecting it with
grace and a very personal style. The album closes (and
seems to reopen) with a tune whose theme rocks back
and forth in a woozy pulse. The whole structure
constantly throws us slightly off balance yet also keeps
our feet on the ground. And that’s the beautiful sense
that pervades the whole album

02.11.08Jazz Times on Real and Imagined

DAVE ALLEN
Real and Imagined (Fresh Sound New Talent)

With a bright, crisply articulated guitar tone and a slippery attack, Dave Allen takes an exceptional quartet on a spin through nine original tunes, showcasing both his own subtle compositional style and the seamless interplay of his band. Saxophonist Seamus Blake projects a smoothly undulating linearity against Allen’s more circular solo approach, while bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber provide gentle yet irresistible force. Melodious and buoyant throughout, this set is easily approached but yields a rich listening experience.

-Forrest Dylan Bryant, Jazz Times

02.05.08Real and Imagined by Budd Koppman

By Budd Kopman
With Real And Imagined, guitarist Dave Allen has solidified a style that was first presented with his debut album, Untold Stories (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005).

This is music that is very hip. Pulsating rhythms, odd meters and phrase lengths, and subtly shifting harmonies are played with a cool guitar tone that belies the driving, unpredictable lines. Allen's effortless technique downplays the apparent complexity, paradoxically creating a cool surface sheen that has a white heat glowing beneath it.

The band is mostly intact from Untold Stories, knows what Allen's music is about and consistently delivers. Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, who played on five on the nine tracks on the previous record, is now fully integrated into the music and provides a prism through which we hear Allen's melodies and lines from a differing angle. Bassist Drew Gress, a strong, and edgier, composer and band leader in his own right (see Irrational Numbers (Premonition, 2007)), replaces Carlo DeRosa and adds some low-register heat of his own. The ubiquitous drummer Mark Ferber returns, easily handling everything Allen throws at him, pushing the band with a deft touch.

Allen has found a true voice, and his music is now recognizable. While not residing in the avant-garde, it is not mainstream either. Although the music is readily accessible, Allen's melodies and arrangements are not simplistic and continually tug at the edges of the mind, pulling it this way and that, without ever losing balance.

The music's sensitivity does not overwhelm its drive and energy, but rather gives it the sense of controlled passion which is the source of the heat that is felt throughout.

The yin and yang of Real And Imagined, epitomized by the title tune and the closing burner “Untold Stories," demonstrates the tension that is felt within an atmosphere of balance and control. The complexity that is pulled off with such ease combines to produce music that seduces both the body and mind--again and again.

Track Listing: Slipping Glimpser; Always Beginning; Musing; Mantra; Real and Imagined; Intimate intricate Distance; Perpetuum Mobile; Playground (Part 1); Untold Story.

Personnel: Dave Allen: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Mark Ferber: drums; Drew Gress: bass.

www.Daveallenjazz.com
www.Freshsoundrecords.com

10.23.07Real and Imagined- by Mark F. Turner

Real and Imagined
Dave Allen | Fresh Sound New Talent
By Mark F. Turner

Dave Allen’s Real and Imagined is of particular interest as it exposes refreshing music that seemingly comes out of nowhere, causing you to wonder why you haven’t heard of the artist before.

But Allen is no neophyte, performing and thriving in NYC’s diverse jazz environment for a number of years. Real and Imagined is his second release, following Untold Stories (Fresh Sound, 2005), featuring his working quartet consisting of the potent rhythm section of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber, plus the sure voice of tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake.

Allen has what could be dubbed as “string-imagination," the ability to quickly form and rethink patterns like moving water--flowing, lucid and spontaneous, paired with superior comping skills--filling in the gaps with creative touches and chord-work. But of equal importance, the band is tight and the music is immersive. Performed without the use of techno effects and overdubbing, the tone of this effort is as forward-thinking as it comes.

It’s rare to find a balanced sax/guitar-lead quartet but Allen and Blake make a fine team, negotiating themes in simpatico on the hip serpentine pattern of “Slipping Glimpser." Or take the bopping “Untold Story," as Blake’s tenor echoes a Michael Brecker-like intensity as Allen adds some Wes Montgomery chords--paving the way for memorable solos as the rhythm section flawlessly keeps the arduous time in check.

“Intimate Distance" is organic; Gress delivers a powerful solo, followed by Allen’s free lines as the Latin-tinged cadence is driven by Ferber’s insistent traps. A minimalist approach on “Musing," funky interactive changes on “Real and Imagined," and the swagger of “Mantra," are all connected sections of this recording’s collage.

From beginning to end the recording has the pulse of contemporary jazz with roots, vision, and spontaneity. Take into account a plethora of good guitar-based recordings and Real and Imagined stands toe-to-toe with any of them.



Track Listing: Slipping Glimpser; Always Beginning; Musing; Mantra; Real and Imagined; Intimate intricate Distance; Perpetuum Mobile; Playground (Part 1); Untold Story.

Personnel: Dave Allen: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Mark Ferber: drums; Drew Gress: bass.

07.07.06Jazz Guitar Life

"Untold Stories", the debut CD from New York Jazz Guitarist Dave Allen,
showcases an exciting and unique player in the mold of Pat Metheny, Ben
Monder, Jonathan Kreisberg and Adam Rogers. Monster chops, harmonic
resourcefulness, strong melodic sense, seamless group interaction,
considerable compositional talent and a kick-ass group of talented players
make this CD an electrifying piece of work.

It’s not long into the opening track, “Momentum", that you get an acute sense of how Allen thinks and plays. His sound is warm and thick with chords and lines that are confidently played and right on the money. Each note sounds like it belongs exactly where he played it with no room for error. The same goes for the supporting players behind Allen. Saxophonist wunderkind Seamus Blake, dynamic drummer Mark Ferber and unyielding bassist Carlo DeRosa have huge ears as they follow Allen through nine tracks of his original compositions that range from driving tunes like “Momentum", “Paradigm Shift", “Samba", “Uneasy", to softer tunes like “In Some Human City", “Searching", “Spring Snow", “Out of the Trap" and “Not Even the Rain". And while Seamus Blake only appears on four tunes, the band sounds just as full when he’s not blowing as when he is thanks to the ever present Ferber and DeRosa who are just a dynamo rhythm section.

No matter how intense the tune or how sensitive, Allen responds to the changes with an enthusiasm that is stellar. His fluidness and melodic control are quite enviable as fleet-fingered single note runs erupt from the fretboard laying down line after line of harmonic and melodic goodness interspersed with a swift command of chord shapes that fit nicely throughout his single line explorations. And while all the tunes are fine examples of his skill, pay special attention to the tunes “Momentum", “Paradigm Shift" and “Samba", you’ll be glad you did.

Now of course this is Dave Allen’s moment to shine but that doesn’t mean that he gets to hog the entire spotlight for himself. Like any true leader he knows when to hand the reigns over to another and the NY crew don’t disappoint.

As you have probably already heard from the likes of Pat Metheny and John Scofield, Seamus Blake is just an awesome talent and he brings it forth on this date with a gusto that matches Allen’s, which is what makes this date so exciting. Two stalwart improvisers tearing up the charts is a thing of beauty and they definitely go to town on every tune. Ferber and DeRosa, drums and bass respectively also get a few moments to bring the house down and they do just that as DeRosa gets to shine on “Spring Snow", “Uneasy" and sizzle in a solo spot on “Samba" while Ferber gets to show off his stuff on “Uneasy", “Momentum" and every other tune on “Untold Stories". Very impressive!

As you can probably tell I have really enjoyed listening to “Untold Stories" and it has even made it to my pocket MP3 player. If you are a player and/or a fan of Jazz Guitar and the high art of improvisation, then add “Untold Stories" to your collection now. With any luck there will be more Untold Stories from Dave Allen and if so I’ll be the first in line.

Go to www.daveallenjazz.com to purchase Untold Stories or to see what else Dave Allen has to offer.

Lyle Robinson

04.08.06From Jazzreview.com

Spanish Label Reintroduces Our Own Guitar-Great Dave Allen

Untold Stories is Dave Allen's first recording as a leader, but his
heavyweight status is confirmed by his sidemen: Seamus Blake on sax (John
Scofield, Dave Douglas), Carlo DeRosa on bass (Donny McCaslin, Brad Shepik,
Clarence Penn, and Vijay Iyer), and Mark Ferber on drums (Fred Hersch, Steve
Coleman, Scott Colley, Drew Gress, Kenny Werner).

Allen knows how to pick sidemen, he's been one for numerous high-profile New
York City soloists, including, Donny McCaslin, Chris Cheek,
Mark Shim, Matt Wilson, Ben Street and Eric McPherson. His busy performance
schedule has been showcased at Birdland, CBGB's, The Knitting Factory, The
55 Bar, Cornelia St Cafe and countless other clubs. Untold Stories is good jazz, documenting at last this confident young quartet. After all, we can't all scout the
Manhattan clubs for ourselves.

All nine songs on Untold Stories are Dave Allen originals, featuring complex
yet memorable melodies and adventurous harmonies. Allen has developed a
brilliant tone and deeply lyrical voicing revealed only in fully-matured
guitarists. His personal jazz conception is an enviable combination of
musical and technical mastery. Jim Macnie of The Village Voice wrote,
"there’s a true sensuality to the guitarist’s sound". In addition to his
musical interests, it would appear Allen has literary interests. This is
evidenced by song titles culled from poetry and prose.

The opening track, "Momentum" features a loping bass intro by Carlo Derosa
and tenor-man Seamus Blake's bold, searching style fairly reminiscent of
Coltrane's masterworks. The advanced level of interplay proves these guys
are used to playing together. "In Some Human City" contains a complex series
of neo-classical counter-melodies, each as interesting and memorable as the
other. Mark Ferber plays the drums with a vigor that could accurately be
described as soloing the whole time. Dross is heard bowing the bass in a
duet with Allen on "Searching", subtly accented by Ferber's low-end drum
rolls. Only if you're a guitarist can you fully appreciate the way Allen
makes difficult techniques appear effortless. "Paradigm Shift" starts out
with an upbeat, off-kilter bass/sax battle, which in turn breaks-down into
highly sophisticated solos. The aptly titled "Spring Snow" paints a somewhat
unexpected but emotionally affirming soundscape.

Even ballads like "Out of the Trap" possess a certain unresolved tension,
like a flexed muscle or a weight suspended by a thread. Even in the
stillness, it feels as if the whole thng could burst at any moment. "Uneasy"
is a gorgeous composition wherein Allen plucks arpeggios over a bed of
brushed percussion. Allen's sound is melodic, melancholic, and deeply rooted
in the core aspects of jazz: blues and swing. His steadfast implied sense of
time allows his sidemen an unusually free creative license.

The final chapter of Untold Stories is titled "Uneasy", and it goes out with
a bang. This lively, syncopated swing set is the quartet's last chance to
show-off. Allen's flashy fingerwork and DeRosa's lightening-fast walking
lines keep pace with Ferber, each turning in heavily bop-infused solos.

Untold Stories is high-quality improvisational small-group jazz, strongly
recommended for anyone curious in new talent.

-David Seymour is a jazz journalist in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

04.02.06From Jazz Times Magazine

By David Adler

Dave Allen, a recent addition to the New York stable, makes a fiery and eloquent showing with Untold Stories. Joined by tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Carlo DeRosa and drummer Mark Ferber, Allen brings daunting chops, full-bodied tone and melodic sensitivity to the table on this all-original debut set.

On the haunting rubato "Searching," the midtempo straight-eighth piece "Spring Snow," the lyrical ballad "Not Even the Rain" and the burning "Samba 7," we hear Allen in a trio setting sans Blake, filling a wide variety of spaces with advanced lines and well-placed harmony. His penchant for sleight-of-hand rhythm comes through on several tracks, including "In Some Human City," "Paradigm Shift" and "Out of the Trap." In terms of technique he's aggressive and unfailingly accurate, identifiably of the post-Metheny school but showing the promise of originality. He throws plenty of challenges at his top-tier bandmates, and they devour the stuff, listening every step of the way.

03.03.06Village Voice

“There is a true sensuality to the guitarist’s sound. On the new Untold Stories, he brings a pearly tone to a piece called Searching, unfolding his lines with an edge-of-your-seat stealth.
-Jim Macnie - Village Voice

02.08.06Budd Koppmann - All About Jazz

All About Jazz.com
Untold Stories
Dave Allen | Fresh Sound New Talent

By Budd Kopman
Having attempted to play the guitar, I have a special place in my heart for guitarists, especially when in the aural presence of a master like Dave
Allen, who brings to mind the ironic cartoon where one guitarist is watching another play and the bubble says, I can do that.

Many guitarists come out of schools like Berklee with blazing technique,
but they pale to the ear quickly when you realize technique is all there is.
Allen has no seeming limit to his technique, but he always puts it to good musical ends. His lines are full of twists and turns, but I always hear thought and emotion, not just flying fingers. His music feels very laid back, so much so that at times I found myself wishing for some more bite; but on the other hand, Allen is a master of playing a line with chordal accompaniment, often sounding like two independent instruments.

All of the tunes on Untold Stories are composed by Allen, who proves
himself to be quite a melodic composer. A number of tracks, including In Some Human City, Paradigm Shift, and Out Of The Trap, have melodies that etched themselves in my mind. The music is full of subtlety, and neither the melodic phrasing nor the harmony is overtly obvious.

Including Seamus Blake on five tracks was a good decision, because it
enables Allen to have someone to play against and comp under. Blake adds much spice and a countering sharper edge to Allens mellow guitar sound. While Allen never really battles Blake, which would have been nice to hear, the alternating sounds on those tracks makes them attractive.

There are a number of standout tracks. Searching is a simply beautiful
piece with strong echoes of Jim Hall both tonally and in the phrasing,
technique, and feel. In this haunting track, Allen uses a very difficult
in-time sliding technique that reminds me of something Django Reinhardt
used to do, although he picked his slide in time. An odd length/meter motive sounds in Paradigm Shift, where Allen burns for the first time using very long lines and another display of his sliding technique, now much faster.

On Samba 7, which doesn't sound like a samba at all, Allen again
displays his ability to use his technique for the music as the lines just flow. DeRosa answers with a
truly amazing bass solo. Ending the record is Uneasy, which is the first
straight cooker, here on a boppish line, played at first in unison by Blake
and Allen, and then taken to cool heights.

Untold Stories is very high quality mainstream jazz, and one does not have to be a guitarist to appreciate the musical minds at work. After listening to the disc for some time, I felt like I knew something of Allen, and I
wanted to know more, since his personality, though understated, comes
through.

01.16.06Jim Macnie

The Guitarist has worked trios for so long that he knows the exact calibrations for counterpoints, grooves, and free-range roving. I like the way he tests his drummers for friction points.

11.08.05from Abeillemusique.com

Dave Allen is the prototype of the exceptionally gifted young New Yorker . . . who had already covered the clubs of the Big Apple (Birdland, The 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Café, CBGb’s and The Knitting Factory…) even before releasing a first album. Untold Stories reveals a sensitive artist, who can go from a controlled fury (Momentum) to a gripping contemplation (Searching, one of the peaks of the album). There is a lot of sensuality in this guitarist’s sound, who can soar without loosing the tether to his partners, all very good here. Let us note in particular an excellent Mark Ferber on drums and the partial, but exemplary, participation of a very strong Seamus Blake on tenor saxophone.

01.06.05New Haven Independent

"Musing" Rings Bell at Firehouse 12

by Paul Bass | November 5, 2006 06:37 PM |

Three songs into their first set at Ninth Square's cozy Firehouse 12, the Dave Allen Quartet reached for the inspiration of Wallace Stevens and Keith Jarrett -- and brought the audience to a higher plane in the Jazzosphere.

The New York-based guitarist/composer brought a saxophonist, drummer and bassist with him to the Crown Street club, a renovated fire station with a recording studio that doubles as an intimate, 55-or-so-seat performance space. The combo played two sets of free-ranging original compositions.

Allen began the first set with two bop numbers in which alto player Loren Stillman and Allen raced across scales like jets zooming across Western plains.

Then Allen introduced a new number called "Musing." The pace screeched to a meditative stillness. It felt like one of the moments in Keith Jarrett's 1972 recording Expectations, when frantic bursts lead into gentle exploration; one mode needs the other to work. Allen offered a repetitive theme that lent a contemplative openness to the room, filled in by his cohorts' deliberate improvisations. The slower, softer pace belied a complex rhythmic pattern driving the piece.

Between sets, Allen said Jarrett indeed is a "huge" influence on his work, perhaps the biggest influence. Poetry inspires him, too; the title of the piece came from Wallace Stevens' "Musing the Obscure."

"It's an emotional piece," Allen said. "I started hearing the pedal point, the shifting colors of the chords. It ended up being very odd. Bit if it's played right, it flows."

Fused by "Musing," band and audience remained connected throughout the evening, a challenge for experimental music like Allen's, in which the theme and the meter don't always stand out front through the bulk of a number. Allen's guitar played the role of Jarrett's keyboards in this piano-less quartet -- reaching for melodic lines while also setting the theme and often the rhythm off which the other played. The gentler moments stood out, especially in the first set, and offered a showcase for drummer Mark Ferber (pictured). He demonstrated that a drum solo can wind down a song, and end it, without the need for a return to brass or string. Moments like those at Saturday night's show helped the "musing" break past the "obscure."