Volant solos, melodic tapestries, mournful cadences, orphic rhythms. JD Allen's extraordinary I AM-I AM
(Sunnyside, 2008) sculpts an aural monument to transformation, a musical testament to the power of the mind to overcome itself through introspective endeavor. Each of its ten compositions roils with the intensity and exposition of a soul wrestling with its two halves, seeking resolution and enveloping the listener in an experience composed equally of musical mastery, intellect, and spiritual renewal.
More than a culmination of studies, or solidifying of artistic maturity, I AM-I AM resonates with the clarity of an artist who has reached a clear turning point. It is no wonder that Allen's latest work has received a flood of critical attention. Far from new to the jazz world, Detroit native Allen has been a stalwart of the New York scene for more than a decade, lending his astute playing and luxuriant tone control to a string of headline jazz names, from Betty Carter to Cindy Blackman. Despite this success, however, Allen found himself struggling with dark times--both musically and personally. At one point, Allen, living homeless in New York, struggled to stay afloat. By faith, perseverance, and profound dedication to his art, Allen charted a way through and the result reverberates clearly throughout his music.
In interview with AAJ contributor Franz Matzner, Allen's story of personal revival and optimism is shared below in the most powerful way possible: his own words.
Check out JD Allen: Notes of Change at AAJ today!