The legacy of and audience for jazz culture relies on access to the music. The story of the music depends on who does the telling, how it’s told and who’s there to listen. Jazz’s lineage relies on education, equity and a community. JD Allen is an essential voice on jazz’s landscape for both his force and his restraint, as well as for the beauty of his tenor saxophone’s sound. Off the bandstand, Allen is a co-founder of We Insist!, a jazz and arts action community and their sister organization, We UP – Re UP.
For this virtual edition of the “Jazz and Social Justice” series, Allen will lead his trio, with bassist Justin Dawson and drummer Cedric Easton, through a hard-swinging performance. Following the music, in discussion with host Larry Blumenfeld, Allen, drummer Nasheet Waits, and pianist Alexis Lombre will talk about equity, opportunity and outreach, and about how best to uphold jazz’s legacy.
Hailed by the New York Times as “a tenor saxophonist with an enigmatic, elegant and hard-driving style,” JD Allen is a bright light on today’s international jazz scene, with 14 albums as a leader to his credit. 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. Allen’s most recent album, “Toys / Die Dreaming” (High Note/Savant), extends his singular and well-honed approach to the trio. His solo saxophone release, “Queen City,” will be released in 2021.
Off the bandstand, Allen is a co-founder of We Insist!, a jazz and arts action community and their sister organization, We UP – Re UP, a collective of jazz musicians whose primary goal is to foster jazz performance curating opportunities within non-traditional inner city and rural performance settings.