This review will seem to start in the middle, followed by the ending, only to wind up at the start. I review many albums during the course of my week and after a while I find myself at a loss for new things to say about the many great artists I get the opportunity to listen to. I don’t know how many of you reading this magazine have labored to write about something you love and feel passionate about, only to find that things seem to mix together and you have not made a point. I feel that this review will break that conundrum of the moment. I find myself quoting the movie Casablanca “Of all the Smokey Bars and Gin Joints, you had to wind up here”.
Rhythm on the River by Harry Allen is a momentous tribute to the music of our past, songs of and about the watery highways and byways that helped build this nation and have been immortalized in folk songs, jazz and blues. Listening to this album, you will feel that it has a rich depth of feeling and emotion. I would like to reference Rhythm on the River in comparison to the “Smokey Barroom” sound of clubs on the New Orleans fourth quarter; it has a soul sparking quality that is very refreshing and yet, seems like an old friend come by to stay a while and remind you of younger days when life was simpler. I personally like the continuous reference to rivers, the constant flow of life and the sudden changes and diversity, from a trickle to a raging force, the music on this album simply beautiful. Harry Allen takes us on journey through the nation, dropping anchor and bringing us home in every beat.
Starting with a light hearted and soulful rendition of Riverboat Shuffle, you can envision a steamboat rolling through the southern shores on a starry night, gamblers and painted ladies feeling frisky and dancing free. Moving on to Lazy River, a midafternoon float in a small boat with your love, watching the clouds roll by and wondering what to do on a summer’s day. A melancholy rendition of Walking by the River which is not sad but contemplative, will find you bobbin your head and wanting for a mint julep, or maybe a whiskey sour. In fact, every song on this collection of long time favorites is joyful, even the songs which traditionally may have a sad song to be heard, will get your feet tapping.
Rhythm on the River by Harry Allen is a great addition to any Jazz collection, or would be a great start, there are allot of moments where you could hear inspirations by the great artists of old that may have given Harry Allen the soulful drive to create an album with such a diverse symphony of heart lifting melodies and smile making moments.
Available in many fine record stores or online at amazon.com or through Challenge Records, Rhythm on the River is sure to please. Get the drinks ready and don’t forget to tip the piano player, it’s a hot time in the old town tonight, let the Rhythm of the River roll you along.
BMG recording artist Harry Allen has over twenty recordings to his name. Three of Harry’s CDs have won Gold Disc Awards from Japan’s Swing Journal Magazine, and his CD Tenors Anyone? won both the Gold Disc Award and the New Star Award. His recordings have made the top ten list for favorite new releases in Swing Journal Magazine’s reader’s poll and Jazz Journal International’s critic’s poll for 1997, and Eu Nao Quero Dancar (I Won’t Dance), the third Gold Disc Award winner, was voted second for Album of the Year for 1998 by Swing Journal Magazine‚s reader’s poll.
Harry has performed at jazz festivals and clubs worldwide, frequently touring the United States, Europe, and the Far East. He has performed with Rosemary Clooney, Ray Brown, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, Flip Phillips, Scott Hamilton, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Kenny Burrell, Herb Ellis, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gus Johnson, Jeff Hamilton, Terry Gibbs, Warren Vache, and has recorded with Tony Bennett, Johnny Mandel, Ray Brown, Tommy Flanagan, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Barron, Dave McKenna, Dori Caymmi, Larry Goldings, George Mraz, Jake Hanna, and Al Foster, among others.