Allen & Allen
The instrumental duo of Bruce Allen and Allen Wiggins marks their latest project by combining their renowned fluidity on keys and sax with a sampling of some of the nicest vocal accompaniment you could hope to hear.Producers: Allen and Allen
album release date: May 6, 2003
As stated in the CD liner notes, the album title Impressions means "a lasting effect, opinion or mental image of somebody or something". It's a good representation of what Allen & Allen have always done offer their jazz-based interpretation of things scriptural, often in the absence of words.
Having said that, words lyrics play a major role on this release, with all but four of the project's thirteen cuts featuring vocal of some sort.
"If" is a tremendous composition, penned by Maurice Henderson and Lisa McClendon, who herself takes lead vocals on the song. The neosoultress' atmospheric voice (see album review) sings "if I should ever stray, Lord I know that your love will bring me back one day" don't close the door on me", evokes elements of the prodigal son parable. Soft vocoder effects combined with Allen and Allen's melodic underpinnings make the cut a candidate for 'press repeat'.
"We're In This Love Together" has harmony masters 7th Element in tow, and the bold Stevie Wonder cover "All I Do" gets a sprightly treatment, heavy on sax and riding an acoustic drum track. Renette Lott and Kayla Bennett offer backing vocals and Victor Forehand ad libs toward's song end.
From the above song titles alone, it is clear that with this album, Allen & Allen have also ventured into the burgeoning field of "Gospel love songs" music that is intended for expression of God-honoring human relationships.
Also in that vein are "I'm In Love" with Reva Bailey on lead and also the intricately melodic instrumental, "Voice Angel", good pieces of work, both.
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The title cut tears a page from Dixie songbook, as a very brassy, near-big-band feel is brought to the song, with Allen on keyboard whizzing ad lib melodic wanderings over a busy, freestyle jazz backdrop.
No surprise, the musical prowess of the jazz veterans is as crisp as ever. Wiggens on sax transitions from intense, almost strident fervour with his instrument on cuts such as "Rise Again" to mellow laidback groove on "No Greater Love", where Danny Thomas' soul musings reign supreme.
Another strong selection is "Your Love Takes Me Higher", to which The Potter's House Singers give a rousing Gospel chorus. It's an original Allen & Allen composition, and is filled with gospel riffs and changes, with Lawrence Buckner's work on bass solidifying the work.
Concluding the set is a patriotic medley titled "America's Cry", that deftly crescendos into the album-ending hymn medley "It is Well / How Great Thou Art".
review by Stan North —
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