Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
At the Millenial Territory Orchestra’s rocking Lake George show a couple of weeks ago, MTO leader Steven Bernstein talked about “the true jazz experience” – which, as Bernstein defined it, was “doing something we don’t quite know!” Ben Allison was the bass player on that date, and two weeks later, he demonstrated Bernstein’s definition in a Planet Arts Jazz one2one concert at the Athens Cultural Center, where Allison debuted his latest endeavor: The Jim Hall Project.
This isn’t the first time Allison has explored the work of an artist from another generation. During Jazz one2one’s latest, lively-as-always pre-show Q&A, Allison spoke reverently about his earlier examination of the late pianist Herbie Nichols – an examination that will be momentarily revived this November during the Jazz Composers Collective’s 20th-anniversary festival at the NYC club Jazz Standard. But here’s the thing: Allison is one of the most prolific (and one of the most interesting) composers in the genre today, so he doesn’t have to use other people’s music to flesh out whatever he’s doing at the time. However, to listen to Allison talk about Jim Hall (a hollow-body guitar icon with 60 years of recordings, as both leader and sideman) was to listen to someone who’d found out he was also examining himself.