Monday, November 23, 2015


JD Allen
A group of regulars at the Detroit Groove Society house concert series was asked how the JD Allen Trio concert Sunday afternoon stacked up to other big-name performers who have played the series. The consensus was Allen’s show was among the top if not the best in the DGS's eleven-year history. Billy Hart, George Cables, Geri Allen, and Danilo Perez are other marquee stars who have graced the series. 

One DSG regular was so taken by the Allen trio’s depth and energy, he likened the show to one of John Coltrane’s live sets. Another regular posted on facebook after the concert he felt he was levitating listening to Allen blow.

The trio played on songs from Allen's albums “Shine!,” “The Matador and the Bull,” "Grace," and “Victory!”. The second set was heavy with material from his current recording “Graffiti”. 

Allen’s trio, bassist Gregg August, and drummer Jonathan Barber, who subbed for Allen’s regular drummer Rudy Royston, plunged into the music and resurfaced for the intermission. The trio opened with an extended version of Allen’s “Sun House,” an uncharacteristic move given Allen likes to get in and out of compositions quickly.

Allen blew so mightily on "Son House" this reviewer was concerned Andy Rothman, the Detroit Groove Society’s founder and whose home the series is held, would have to hire Hanson’s to replace all the windows in the house. Allen is a dynamo on tenor who seems to have a direct line to the spirits of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson.

Allen cooled down the house with the ballad “If You Could See Me Now,” rendered so thoughtfully it could’ve made the meanest fuck weep. After buttering up the audience with the ballad, the trio moved into a litany of short compositions that clocked in around four minutes each. Every song the trio presented both sets were bonafide showstoppers.

Johnathan Barber’s drumming made the concert extra special. His busy style of drumming is akin to Elvin Jones and Ralph Peterson. Barber was the crowd favorite, and he went hard on every number as if hellbent on staying in the trio permanently.

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