Tuesday, January 3, 2017

USA: Kris Allen Quartet: Beloved (2016)

You’ve heard of the sophomore jinx: the idea that an artist’s first album scoops up all their best songs, leaving the cupboard kinda bare for the follow-up. Kris Allen’s debut recorded in 2011, Circle House, had its considerable pleasures, not least a heavily syncopated “Star Eyes,” one of only two non-originals. But the sequel Beloved for a tight two horns/two rhythm quartet is a leap forward, not least because of some very lively tunes. Lack of material is clearly not a problem.
Kris Allen: “I’ve written a lot more pieces than have been recorded, and a few here—‘One for Rory,’ ‘Lord Help My Unbelief’ and ‘More Yeah’—are maybe a decade old. Only ‘Mandy Have Mercy’ and ‘Hate the Game’ were 100-percent written for this project. I’d always heard ‘Beloved’ as a solo piano piece, so to do it with this group was a challenge. Some of the older compositions I’d performed so much I got a little tired of them, and bringing them back was part of the challenge too. So: it’s songs from different eras of life.”
Allen, born 20 June 1976, grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut. Music was always in the air. His mom played organ at church, and Kris took up saxophone by age nine. He was 14 when his teacher passed away, and he moved on to another local saxophone instructor, Jackie McLean. Allen didn’t really know who that hardbop giant was, until he met him—and saw how other people looked up to him. Allen got up to speed quick, and would go on to the study with McLean at the Hartt School of Music.Kris Allen Quartet: Beloved (2016)