Solid, rich, and fluid straight-ahead melodies, chords, and scale work characterize Real and Imagined, this second effort by guitarist/composer Dave Allen. The steady combination of complexion, feel, and precision timing all work to present this upscale piece of art in the highest light for the purist at heart.
Though he only has two solo recordings, including this one, Dave Allen just happens to be one of the more distinctive voices on guitar today. He’s widely respected in the jazz community and has continually sought to forge a unique vision through his playing and writing - one that features lyrical melodies with complex rhythms and intricate harmonies. With the help of such talent as saxman Seamus Blake, drummer Mark Ferber, and bassist Drew Gress, I think Allen has carved out a success here.
Tasteful, tight, and rather lengthy tunes like "Slipping Glimpser," the title track, "Perpetuum Mobile," and a few other offerings here prove that Allen’s group thinks enough of its material and dedication to the magic of straight-ahead jazz to happily belabor the point, much to many a listener’s delight, I’m sure.
Artists like Allen constantly keep the good name of traditional jazz in the forefront and competing in this world of competing genres, subgenres, and sub-subgenres. While many shun categorization or characterizations, sometimes knowing that one’s sound and style are what they are and being proud of that "pigeonhole" speaks volumes about one’s confidence and presence. "Yes, I am a straight-ahead jazz pianist; yes, I play blues guitar; yes, I prefer playing contemorary jazz sax" all should be spoken in unashamed terms if that is one’s comfort zone (not to take a thing away from experimentation, diversity, innovativeness, insight, and flexibility, of course!). Allen certainly feels and seems comfortable where he and his group are at this point.... and rightly so. They do what they do very well.