Ben Allison’s 2002 recording, Peace Pipe, was a bold testament to his talent, innovation and leadership. Known for always creating distinctive music, Allison took it a step further with Peace Pipe by challenging all supposed limitations on the music. By arranging unusual instrumentation and incorporating African - and to a certain extent - hip hop rhythms, Allison created a dazzling, memorable musical experience for his listeners.
Ben Allison is a jazz bassist and composer who doesn’t so much straddle boundaries as ignore them…This is Allison’s specialty. Fusing together unlikely intervals, patterns, melodies, genres into a lively, complex, melodic, swinging whole. It’s unclear how the cart holds together so seamlessly, but it does.
Buzz features his mainstay intellectual musical unit, Medicine Wheel, named for the Native American symbol for the universe. The wheel is a perfect symbol for Allison to align himself with as it represents the constant movement and changing perspective he’s brought to jazz through his sophisticated compositions, inventive arrangements and co-founding of the prestigious Jazz Composers Collective and Herbie Nichols Project (founded with Frank Kimbrough). Medicine Wheel is comprised of: Michael Blake, tenor & soprano saxophones; Ted Nash, tenor saxophone & flute; Clark Gayton, trombone & bass trombone; Frank Kimbrough, piano, Wurlitzer & prepared piano; and Michael Sarin on drums.
Buzz’s title track was inspired by the sounds of New York City, similar to “Third Rail” from Peace Pipe. But instead of using a Metrocard to pluck his bass this time, Allison uses actual seed pods to get his “buzz,” wrapping them around the strings of his bass. Kimbrough joins in the fun by sticking pennies and paper clips in between the strings of his piano. Just one of the examples of how creative Allison can be in achieving the sound he hears in his head when writing his music. Four of the CD’s seven tracks were written by Allison. The other three were contributed by Michael Blake, Andrew Hill and Lennon & McCartney.