Harry Allen’s Rhythm On The River (CR 73311) has the great tenor swinging through 13 songs; 12 have “river” in their titles.
Harry Allen has been very consistent throughout his career despite recording a large number of CDs. He always swings, his tone can emulate both Stan Getz and Ben Webster, and he can always be relied upon to perform and record rewarding music. Like his early idol Scott Hamilton, Allen has helped to revitalize the small group swing movement.
For Rhythm On The River, Allen was challenged to record a full set of standards, all but one of which have the word “River” in their title; the lone exception was “Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On.” The project teams Allen with the great swing pianist Rossano Sportiello, bassist Joel Forbes and drummer Chuck Riggs, with cornetist Warren Vache added to wonderful effect on four numbers.
While this project could have been a gimmick, the music is too rewarding and fun for that to be the case. Among the many highpoints are a dixielandish “Riverboat Shuffle,” “Cry Me A River,” the Bing Crosby-associated “Rhythm On The River,” “River, Stay Away From My Door,” and “Swanee River.”
The fresh material (few musicians have opportunities to play “Weary River”and “Ready For The River” anymore) inspires the musicians, with many hot solos from Allen, Sportiello and Vache. Swing fans should go out of their way to pick up this rewarding outing.