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Masterclass with guest artist JD Allen

Event Description: 

Join us for a free masterclass with Detroit-born, New York-based jazz saxophonist, JD Allen. Whether you’re an aspiring musician or simply curious about the intricacies of jazz, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Activities include artist demonstration, student coaching and Q&A with the audience. Feel free to bring your instrument.

Seating is limited. Please rsvp by March 14.

Date & Time: Saturday, Mar 16, 2024 10:30AM – 12:30PM

Location: High School of Recording Arts 1166 University Ave W, St Paul, MN

Questions or More Info:  jack@walkerwest.org

About JD Allen:  Detroit-born, New York-based jazz saxophonist, composer, sideman, and bandleader who has won several Downbeat critics’ polls.

Saxophonist J.D. Allen is an adept soloist, steeped in the acoustic post-bop tradition but whose playing is open to an array of sounds, both mainstream and avant-garde. Following his early work with Betty Carter and Winard Harper, he garnered critical acclaim for 1999’s In Search Of…, 2002’s Pharoah’s Children, and 2008’s I Am I Am. He leads a long-running trio with bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston; they released albums like 2015’s Graffiti and 2016’s Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues. He was also part of another trio with bassist Ian Kenselaar and drummer Nic Cacioppo, delivering 2019’s Barracoon and 2020’s Toys/Die Dreaming, before reuniting with August and Royston for 2022’s Americana, Vol. 2. Along with his small group work, he recorded a solo saxophone album, Queen City, and explored electronic soundscapes on This. in 2023.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, on December 11, 1972, Allen first became interested in music listening to classic funk and R&B albums by Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, and Marvin Gaye. He started on the saxophone at age 11 and was soon exploring the work of jazz and classical artists, from Sun Ra and Albert Ayler to Shostakovich and Prokofiev. After high school, he honed his skills as a music major at Hampton University in Virginia. From there, he moved to New York City where he joined the ranks of some of the leading jazz Young Lions of the day. Early on, he worked such notables as George Cables, Betty Carter, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band, Butch Morris, David Murray, and Wallace Roney. His contemporary collaborators include Winard Harper, Orrin Evans, Gerald Cleaver, Eric Revis, Marcus Gilmore, Russell Gunn, Meshell Ndegéocello, Dave Douglas, Jeremy Pelt, Elisabeth Kontomanou, Lucian Ban, and the Red Records All-Stars.

Allen’s debut recording for the Criss Cross label, In Search Of…, won him an award for Best New Artist in Italy in 1999, and had reviewers praising him for his original compositions and bold playing. That same year he began touring and recording with drummer Cindy Blackman‘s ensemble. His second Criss Cross date, Pharoah’s Children, was a Jazziz magazine critics pick as a Top Ten Album of the Year in 2002.

Allen subsequently signed to the Sunnyside label, where he released three critically acclaimed albums — 2008’s I Am I Am, 2009’s Shine!, and 2011’s Victory! — before moving on to Savant Records. His debut for the label, 2012’s The Matador and the Bull and its follow-up, Grace, a year later, earned him two consecutive Downbeat Critics poll awards for Tenor Saxophonist and Composer. Allen expanded his trio to a quartet for 2014’s Bloom, where the artist drew from three primary inspirations: 20th century classical music, the Great American Songbook, and post-bop jazz improvisation. He wrote seven of the set’s ten tunes.

For 2015’s Graffiti, he introduced a new trio with bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston; the album was included on several year-end critics’ lists. That group returned for the following year’s Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues. While it featured mostly originals, it did include the Delta standard “Another Man Done Gone,” by Vera Hall and “If You’re Lonesome, Then You’re Not Alone,” by contemporary saxophonist Bill McHenry. More albums appeared on Savant, including 2017’s Radio Flyer, which found him augmenting his trio with August and Royston with guitarist Liberty Ellman. The same group was on board for his 2018 ballads album Love Stone.

With 2019’s Barracoon and 2020 Toys/Die Dreaming, Allen introduced yet a different trio with bassist Ian Kenselaar and drummer Nic Cacioppo. During lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen recorded his first-ever solo saxophone album, 2021’s Queen City, which found him drawing inspiration from similar recordings by Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, and Steve Lacy.

In 2022, he reunited with August and Royston for Americana, Vol. 2, which also featured guitarist Charlie Hunter. For 2023’s atmospherically textural This. he added electronics to his sound, recording at London’s Lightship 95 Studio with instrumentalist/sound engineer Alex Bonney and drummer Gwilym Jones.