Steve Allee: Bus to Belmopan


Bus to Belmopan


Steve Allee (piano)


Dragonfly (Owl Studios 00117)

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Steve Allee (piano),

Rich Perry (tenor sax), Bill Moring (bass), Tim Horner (drums)


Composed by Steve Allee


Recorded: Nashville, IN, 2008


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

One of the most gifted and versatile keyboard artists in jazz today, Indianapolis-based Steve Allee was just 19 when he joined Buddy Rich's band in the late '60s. Unfortunately, since 19 was also the magic age for Selective Service, the Vietnam War intervened and he found himself in the U.S. Army. I first encountered this amazing keyboard artist in 1970, at a tiny hole-in-the-wall jazz pub in Raleigh, North Carolina, called the Frog and Nightgown, where he and an L.A. bass player named Don Felix were doing a house gig. Not believing my ears, I had to ask: what was a guy whose playing sounded like an amalgam of Herbie, Oscar and Chick doing in Andy Griffith Land? The answer, of course, is that he and Don were stationed at Fort Bragg, 45 minutes southeast of "the Big R." It is indeed fortuitous that during the tragic days of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military saw fit to issue Steve Allee a piano instead of an M16.

Decades and many musical accomplishments later, Steve Allee may not be a household name, but there are few pianists who can match his depth and vision. Equally at home with an intimate trio, big band or full symphonic orchestra, he is much in demand for his evocative film scores, and has written themes for several major television shows, including NYPD Blue and Chicago Hope.

Steve Allee's compositions tend to be vivid musical landscapes. On "Bus to Belmopan," we are packed into a colorful jitney bounding across Belize en route to a lighthearted, Afro-Cuban feast peppered with McCoy-isms and the rich-textured seasoning of Rich Perry's tenor. This is an enticing recording with warmth and clarity. One can almost taste the plantains and feel the wind through the swaying trees.

Reviewer: Bill Barnes

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  • 1 Steve Allee // Jul 01, 2008 at 02:51 AM
    Wow Bill! We do go way back! ... all the way to the Frog and Nightgown and Don Felix. Thank you for your very kind words about Dragonfly. I'm happy to hear that you like the "Bus". It was a great ride! I'd love to hear what you've been playing lately! All the best! Steve
  • 2 Dave Dickey // Jul 01, 2008 at 05:53 PM
    I'm a big fan of Steve's playing and his compositions, both small group and big band. More people need to hear him! "Dragonfly" is a great CD. I've been playing it frequently on WEFT 90.1 FM in Champaign, IL.