Concert Review: Steve Allee Big Band at the Jazz Kitchen, Aug. 1 

“Glide-a-scope,” Steve Allee’s playful new composition, was birthed at the 8 p.m. concert. With Allee still penciling in parts and giving verbal suggestions, the 15 players, with Allee at the piano, sight-read the notes. What happened will certainly remain magical for those present at the event. Before our eyes and ears, every player got into the groove of the piece, individual and collective synergy making the pictures come alive — movement radiating within a gathering of colored fragments not clicking as expected, rather floating past and around each other.

“Synergy” is Allee’s one-word explanation for how it happens that players who arrive from a dozen different home bases, un-rehearsed, can breathe life into an idea so that we in the seats can carry the concept home and hear it in our heads days afterwards.

Allee’s sound arrests attention because it is dancer-ly in the way that Ballanchine dancers move musically. Allee starts the concert noodling at the piano. The players’ bodies move into the melody, the mood, the mode, pick up on what’s theirs.

An Allee concert is a dance, the evening as choreographed as a kid’s pickup game of softball. Teams opposing know next time they’ll be picked to play together, but in the moment it’s play to win: bluff, surprise, feint, score; catch, throw, tag. Allee’s artistry is the same as Ballanchine’s — neither ever stops, the down-beat springs to a bounce up — a run for home safe in the split-second turn of the shortstop’s scoop. Change-ups are lofty, airborne — the batter’s whack arrested deftly by the outfielder’s jump. Throughout, Allee and the Big Band shared the feeling of jazz with his arrangements of the familiar composers and pieces from his new album, “Dragonfly.” Log on to


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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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