If you were fortunate enough to hear Ehud Asherie and Harry Allen’s Upper West Side, which I gave a 4.5 star review of in Downbeat, then you should must check out the duo’s latest release, Lower East Side. Every quality that graced the former album is abundant on the latter: Asherie’s delicious touch and masterful stride playing, Allen’s husky and romantic old school tenor playing, gorgeous old tunes that aren’t often played, and the duo’s ability to employ older styles to make new statements. This album is outstanding from top to bottom. The medium swinger “S’posin’” starts things off, and it’s the perfect vehicle for Allen’s lyricism, and dig his use of a slight growl a la Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, etc. Asherie’s playing throughout the album, especially when he plays in a stride style, as on “Hallelujah!”, makes me wish more players would incorporate such an important piano style into their playing. A.C. Jobim’s “Portrait in Black and White” is haunting; Allen’s reading of the melody is silky smooth and utterly captivating. Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ “Hey There” is a lovely ballad, as is “Thanks a Million.” The album closes with the somewhat bittersweet and wistful “When I Grow Too Old to Dream.” The track is another example of everything that’s great about this album. It showcases two fantastic musicians who expertly execute their strong points of view and who make music that’s fun, moving, timeless, and above all, swinging.
If you missed Upper West Side go back and check that out. And then dig into Lower East Side, as it picks up right where the previous album left off.
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