Intuitive Jazz: The Mike Allen Trio 

Who: The Mike Allen Trio

Where: Maurice Young Millennium Place

When: Jan. 4 and 5, 8 p.m.

With bebop pizazz, The Mike Allen Trio hits Whistler tonight as the third act in the jazz performance series titled Season Your Winter.

"A lot of modern, commercial music is designed to be watched but not listened to, whereas with jazz music the musician is really encouraged to be himself (which makes jazz) a type of music people really connect with," says tenor saxophonist Mike Allen.

B.C. native Darren Radtke plays bass guitar, while Dave Robbins, jazz educator and composer, rounds out the trio on drums.

Allen took time to discuss how the art of jazz is more accessible than people think.

"People feel they need to know all about the music before they come to the show, but they don’t. With someone like Diana Krall, you know what you’re going to get, and the concept is very stylish – but there’s a deep, intuitive level to this music," notes Allen. "We draw people in slowly, and we’re not trying to play in the style of anyone else," he adds.

Some compare Allen’s style to the that of the swing era, and a rendition of George Gershwin’s Love Walked In is included on the trio’s CD Changes Is. Additional singles on the album include The Difference Between Us, Love is a Many Splendoured Thing, and Your Time Will Come.

Allen acknowledges the strong influence of Sonny Rollins on the latest album, and muses on song development.

"We all know around 300 songs each, and through playing we work on a repertoire of music developing different songs, playing them live usually between one to three times, then choosing the best version for the album. We’ll work on that song for a half year, then move onto another because there’s so many great songs to record," says Allen.

Throughout 2001, the Mike Allen trio regularly played Tuesday nights at the Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, with guest musicians including Brian Lynch, Jim Snidero, Gary Bartz, and Oliver Gannon. They have also performed at the Pacific North West Jazz Alliance Concert, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and from 1990 through 1998 appeared regularly at the National Library in Ottawa as the Mike Allen Quartet. The Mike Allen Quartet also performed at the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree in Poland in 1988.

Previous albums from Mike Allen include One Side of a Circle in 1999, featuring guitarist Bill Coons, bassist Darren Radtke, and Dave Robbins on drums, an album that included the theme from A Streetcar Named Desire. One Step Closer was produced in 1997, featuring bassist Alec Walkington and drummer Dave Robbins.

Model Artistry , their new album, is due for release in spring 2002 on the label Maximum Jazz. The trio then tours Canada with the album before heading south for stops in Chicago, San Francisco and other south western U.S. destinations.

In his solo endeavours as a saxophonist, Allen has played jazz since the ’80s. He also teaches at Capilano College. He obtained a Masters in Jazz from New York University, where he studied alongside tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on a Canada Council grant. Allen continues to perform as part of the Brad Turner Quintet, who performed a Tribute to Oscar Peterson at the Chan Centre in Vancouver.

Performances tonight and Saturday are the final instalments in the three-part jazz series titled Season Your Winter, and take place at Millennium Place Theatre. Previous performers included Cory Weeds with his band Crash and the band Esq.

For information and tickets call the office of Millennium Place at 604-935-8410.

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