Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2008 release from the producer, composer and arranger. Called one of today's best young Jazz musicians by the Boston Globe, Allison is a visionary composer, adventurous improviser and strong organizational force and has emerged as a rising star over the past decade.
Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Ben Allison (bass guitar); Michael Sarin (drum); Ron Horton , Steve Cardenas.
Personnel: Ben Allison (acoustic guitar); Steve Cardenas (electric guitar); Ron Horton (trumpet, flugelhorn); Michael Sarin (drums).
Additional personnel: Michael Blake (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone).
Audio Mixers: Ben Allison; Matt Balitsaris.
Recording information: Maggie's Farm, PA (08/17/2007/08/18/2007).
From 1992 to 2004, bassist Ben Allison was an important part of the Jazz Composers Collective, and although that organization later became dormant, it is appropriate to think of him somewhat more as a composer than as a player. Like Charles Mingus, he is more interested in writing music than in seeking outlets for himself as a musician. (And, like Mingus, that doesn't make him any less of an accomplished bass player.) This point is worth making at the start of an assessment of Little Things Run the World, Allison's album as part of a group he has dubbed Man Size Safe. (It seems that Vice President Dick Cheney has what The Washington Post called a "man size safe" in his office.) The group also includes Ron Horton (another alumnus of the Jazz Composers Collective on trumpet and flugelhorn), Steve Cardenas (electric guitar), and Michael Sarin (drums), with a third Jazz Composers Collective member, Michael Blake, guesting on tenor and soprano saxophone. It is apparent immediately that Allison is presenting these pieces largely as compositions, although he of course allows room for his fellow musicians to improvise. The tracks are compositionally well developed, with strong melodies. Allison only puts himself forward as a soloist on the songs he did not write, Cardenas' Burt Bacharach-influenced "Language of Love" and a cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." The music is often reminiscent of Miles Davis in his cool jazz period, particularly because of Horton's demonstrated affection for the sound of his predecessor. But this album is largely an execution of the work of a jazz composer, as opposed to being another small-band jazz album; other jazz musicians should look to Allison for tunes. ~ William Ruhlmann