Hailed by the New York Times as “a tenor saxophonist with an enigmatic, elegant and harddriving style,” JD Allen is a bright light on today’s international jazz scene. His unique and compelling voice on the instrument – the result of a patient and painstaking confrontation with the fundamentals of the art – has earned Allen years of critical attention signaling his ascension to the upper ranks of the contemporary jazz world.
Originally from Detroit, Allen’s apprenticeship, anchored by his lengthy tenure with Betty Carter, occurred largely in New York, where he worked with legends Lester Bowie, George Cables, Ron Carter, Louis Hayes, Frank Foster Big Band, Winard Harper, Dave Douglas, Cindy Blackman, Butch Morris, David Murray, Wallace Roney, Rufus Reid and Geri Allen.
In 2008, Allen began an association with Sunnyside Records to record his brand new trio, coined “the three headed monster” (Burning Ambulance), for I AM – I AM, featuring Gregg August (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). The album garnered rave reviews from the New York Times (Ben Ratliff’s Playlist), Time Out NY (music cover), All About Jazz, Jazzman, Jazz Wise and Downbeat Magazines. Allen also appeared on NPR’s Jazz Perspectives, WNYC’s Soundcheck and WKCR’s Musician’s Show. Allen was also named “Rising Star” in DownBeat’s 2011 Critic’s Poll as well as a finalist in the 2010, 2009 and 2008 polls.
Word-of-mouth praise for the album led Lorraine Gordon, owner of the famed Village Vanguard to invite him and his trio for a weeklong stint. The engagement was met with relentless coverage from the cultural press: Time Out New York selected his engagement as its top musical attraction for that week; he appeared on NPR/WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show; WBGO and the New York Times reviewed the historic residency, commending Allen for his trio’s “fearless approach to a formidable tradition.”
In 2009, Allen released his follow-up, Shine!, to further detonate the trail of musical gunpowder he had long been putting down. He received “Top 10 Album of The Year” in over 25 publications worldwide including; NPR’S Top 5 Albums of 2009 (Shine!), JazzTimes Top 50 Albums of 2009 (Shine!), Village Voice #9 Jazz Album of the Year (Shine!), Boston Globe Top Jazz Album of the Year, 2009 (Shine!).
Allen’s final trio record with the label, Victory!, (Sunnyside) also had a visual to go with it and Director Mario Lathan’s effort received the 2011 Jazz Journalist Association (JJA) award for “Best Short Film”, in addition to receiving worldwide recognition including a feature on NPR’s First Listen, an in-depth piece in the June issue of JazzTimes and 4**** stars from Downbeat.
In 2012, Allen began recording for Savant Records where he recorded The Matador and The Bull (2012), Grace (2013), Bloom (2014), Graffiti (2015), Americana: Musings on Jazz & Blues (2016), Radio Flyer (2017) and Love Stone (2018), his long awaited crticially acclaimed ballad record. Every release continuing to earn Allen massive recognition and “Album of The Year” Awards in every Critic’s Poll and notable publications such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, Downbeat Magazine and JazzTimes Magazine.