Jazz fans sure like Ben Allison. The New York-based musician's ninth CD, Think Free, was released just a little more than three months ago, and has already spent several weeks in the top spot on the CMJ jazz chart. Down Beat readers like Allison, too, citing him in the Best Bassist category for three out of the last five years. It's a combination of his simple, accessible style and unusual trumpet-violin front line that accounts for much of the attraction. As for his style, Allison reminds listeners that simple doesn't mean easy. "It's challenging to write something simple that sustains an audience's interest," he says, adding that trumpet player Shane Endsley gets a workout even with the seemingly straightforward tunes. "To play something soft and high is the hardest thing to do on a trumpet. It may be subtle, but it's not easy." The rest of Allison's quintet, Man Size Safe, is made up of Jenny Scheinman on violin, Steve Cardenas on guitar and Rudy Royston on drums.
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