Hereâ€™s a set by a trio of truly comfortable and able improvisers. Assembled by Brian
Allen on trombone, and rounded out with the addition of veterans Tony Malaby on tenor
sax, and Tom Rainey on drums, â€œSynapseâ€� follows the trio through 8 relatively short,
free improvisations which never stray too far from a direct interplay and dynamic melodicism.
As a side note: Brian Allen hails from Lake Jackson, Texas, a small petrochemical-
processing city about forty miles south of Houston, on the Gulf Coast. I live in Houston, and
am familiar with Lake Jackson, and the idea of a jazz improviser surviving the almost certain
horrors of a town like Lake Jackson is an accomplishment in and of itself. There must be
something in the water around here, because free jazz luminary and drumming powerhouse
Suzy Ibarra is also from the same basic area.
I really enjoy this CD. These guys never play the raging skronk that has, for some reason,
become synonymous with free jazz. Instead, they stick closer to a more subtle and playful
sort of thing. Not that there is a lack of passion, they just simply ply their trade in a
somewhat more spacious way.
Despite the trio being headed by Allen, I often found myself focused more on the sax than
the trombone, perhaps because Allen has a way of skirting the main direction of the tunes
and instead chooses to weave around the sax and drums. Allen has an arsenal of
techniques at his disposal, and he is more than comfortable to employ them all to give him
the wide voice he needs to leave the conventions behind and to be able to birth something
entirely original, yet familiar.
These relatively short pieces are each able to communicate much in their brief time, and
nothing here feels rushed in the least. In fact, everything seems to be right where it
belongs, and as a trio, these guys sound as though they have been playing together for
years. I would love to hear more from them, and look forward to seeing what they could
accomplish given enough time. (8 stars of 10) John Cramer- John Cramer
BRIAN ALLEN WITH TONY MALABY AND TOM RAINEY - SYNAPSE REVIEW
from Foxy Digitalis