During the past few years, Lolly Allen has developed into one of the most promising vibraphonists in jazz. While one can occasionally hear the inspiration of other vibraphonists in her playing (such as Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs and Gary Burton), she has developed her own style and approach to performing straight ahead jazz.
Coming Home, her second CD as a leader, has Allen mostly leading a quintet with Danny Janklow on alto and tenor, Josh Nelson or Tom Owens on piano, bassist Jordan Richards, and Paul Kreibich or Kendall Kay on drums. Two songs (Carl Saunders' swinging "Lolly's Folly" and "Gentle Rain") have trumpeter Saunders, trombonist Scott Whitfield, baritonist Adam Schroeder, and guitarist Larry Koonse being added to the group.
Mixing together standards with a few lesser-known songs (including Horace Silver's "The Hippest Cat In Hollywood") and two of the vibraphonist's originals, Coming Home is an excellent showcase for Lolly Allen's playing. With inventive arrangements provided mostly by Allen and Owens, the highlights include "Little Hummingbird," a quietly expressive version of "If You Could See Me Now," "Mambo Inn" and Dizzy Gillespie's Bebop."
The passing of Bobby Hutcherson and the retirement of Gary Burton and Terry Gibbs makes it necessary for a new generation of vibraphonists to move the instrument and the music forward. Lolly Allen has the potential to become one of the leading vibists. Coming Home, available from www.originarts.com, is an excellent showcase for her talents.