"Two things that are consistent about Ben Allison recordings are the beauty and intelligence of the compositions."
- AOL Spinner.com
Bassist/composer Ben Allison’s ninth album, Think Free, is part of a paradigm shift that began with his 2005 Palmetto Records release, Cowboy Justice. “I wanted a band that rocked,” says Allison of his changing sound. “I was moving away from the chamber-jazz elements of Medicine Wheel and Peace Pipe and trying to incorporate other sounds into my music. I continue to try to get to something personal. Cowboy Justice, Little Things Run the World (Palmetto, 2008), and now Think Free are all one continuous train of thought.”
Think Free builds not only on the concept but also the personnel of its predecessors. Longtime compatriot Steve Cardenas returns on guitar, alongside trumpeter Shane Endsley, violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Rudy Royston. Each of them are composers and band leaders and bear impressive artistic resumes: Cardenas is a member of Paul Motian’s Sextet and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra; Endsley is a rising voice on trumpet, well known for his work in Kneebody and alongside Ani Difranco; Scheinman has been widely acclaimed for her performance as both violinist and vocalist; and Royston’s training in both the conservatory and the church contributes to his soulful precision behind the kit. The addition of Scheinman’s violin to the quartet of trumpet, guitar, bass and drums had been in Allison’s mind since 2005. “In the past few years I was fortunate to play a lot with Jenny, often in collaboration with Rudy and Steve. We all felt an immediate and strong musical connection.” Allison continues, “I think an extremely important part of being a composer/bandleader is assembling an interesting combination of musicians. Duke Ellington and Miles Davis were masters of this. Their music is very much an extension of the rapport between, and personalities of, the members of their groups. It could be said that choosing the right musicians is part of the compositional process.”