The Magic Hour
Combining his love for everything from traditional bebop to funk and R&B, Steve Allee fills The Magic Hour with a wistful yet savvy, lighthearted yet meaningful sense of groove and melody. Despite the vast eclecticism within its thirteen tracks, at the heart of each tune is Allee's dynamic solo piano spirit, which dances over a wide variety of tempos, moods and textures.
Produced by Tom Borton
Executive Producers: Tom Borton, Tom Griswold, Stan Hillis and Steve Allee
- Steve Allee - Piano and Keyboards
- Vel Lewis Synth Bass
- Kevin Chokan - Electric Guitar
- Lenny Castro - Congas and Percussion
- Tom Borton - Saxophones and Drum/Perc Programming
- Mark Browne - Electric Bass
- Mark Goldenburg - Electric Guitar
- Bill Moore - Carpenter Drum Loop
- Jerry Hey - Trumpet
- Ray Fuller - Electric Guitar
- Bob Sheppard - Tenor Sax solo
- Debra Dobkins - Congas and Percussion
- George Adjieff - Acoustic and Electric Guitars
- Yara Figiuera - Vocals
STEVE ALLEE / "THE MAGIC HOUR"
NOTEWORTHY RECORDS (NWR 9504)
STRICTLY JAZZ ...... by Warren White
"An appropriate name for a fantastic CD. Pianist Allee has integrated all the right ingredients, which include good musicians (Jerry Hey, Bob Sheppard, Lenny Castro and Mark Browne), and great songs. Steve's playing is very lyrical, and filled with passion. He also wrote or co-wrote twelve of the thirteen tunes. Songs range from slow to up-tempos. This is a CD where your money is well spent." *****
INDIANAPOLIS NEWS REVIEW ...... by Mike Redmond
"Being contemporary, piano -led stuff, Allee's work falls into that gray zone where jazz, blues, R&B and funk overlap, which means it's pretty accessible. Don't go looking for Monk or Bud Powell here. That's not the point. The point instead, and this is where "The Magic Hour" shines, is a collection of hummable melodies with strong rhythmic underpinnings and improvisational flights that make sense, and move the music along without leaving the listener behind."
HOUSTON STYLE MAGAZINE ...... by Shaakir
"...music that feels very inspiring and refreshing. Hat's off to Steve - a very talented, warm and down to earth individual."
DAVID BAKER ....Professor of Jazz Studies, Indiana University
"This CD is the complete package: great concept, imaginative compositions, an all-star line-up of sidemen, exceptional playing, and something for anyone who likes good jazz. Steve Allee is a major voice in today's music."
JAZZIZ ....... by Jonathan Widran
"...Steve Allee combines a graceful, "Joe Sample", acoustic piano sensibility with jazzy edges over a shifting, rhythmic playground...touching on such magic moments with a blend of romance and frolic. While the dynamics and sonic hues are constantly shifting under the direction of Allee and producer/saxman Tom Borton, the numerous charms of The Magic Hour comes in three basic patterns...urban, pop jazz and lush balladry."
THE MAGIC HOUR (Noteworthy NWR 9504) proves a grand time for keyboardist Steve Allee, a longtime studio sideman and TV/film composer making his debut outing with his own band. Allee, an Indiana University bandmate of Michael Brecker and Jerry Hey, proves his own mettle in both pop and jazz settings, showcasing a lithe melodic touch on piano. Quietly melodic tunes like the conga-wrapped "Stormfront", and shuffling "Blue Vista" are appealing, but Allee pushes the envelope, exploring unexpected avenues like the sharp-cornered "Swoonaire", which exercises his jazzier chops (along with Hey's trumpet magic). "Quantum Soup", the albums funkiest cut, has the added juice of live congas and percussion (courtesy of Debra Dobkins), as well as meaty Hey/Tom Borton brass duets. For the most Allee-driven magic, check out "Cirrus", high- lighted by the keyboardist's bell-clear melodic doodles contrasting syncopated chording. Allee's piano work muses lightly and breathes in sensitive phrasings reminiscent of a Fred Hersch, making The Magic Hour prime-time listening.
STEVE ALLEE / THE MAGIC HOUR (Noteworthy)
Indiana keyboardist Steve Allee lays down some tasty, funky grooves on this Noteworthy release, "The Magic Hour". It's a bit reminiscent of Kim Pensyl's early "Pensyl Sketches" on the old Optimisim label, a careful mix of commercial and jazz. As the performances gather steam, Allee's piano influences begin to unfold. As the jams begin to solidify, he pulls out some jazz clusters and sneaks in a few bop phrases. "Stormfront" is entirely smooth in feel and definition,
with some nice churning fretless bass lines from Mark Browne (who tours with Melissa Etheridge). Allee skillfully blends acoustic grand with contemporary synthesized keyboard. His unison melody lines with bassist Browne are especially crafted. There's a baker's dozen of tight tunes, five co-written by producer and saxophonist, Tom Borton. "Swoonaire" has some punchy horn parts that pierce through the satiny arrangements. Again, a mild jazz feel presides. When it comes to selecting pertinent tunes for full time A2 airplay, The Magic Hour" is a virtual "pick 'em".