"Think Free," bassist/composer Ben Allison's next album drops officially on October 13, but the whole shebang is available for download and/or streaming on the Palmetto Records site.
[Palmetto's embeddable player doesn't seem to work on my browser, but here goes:]
The album is the third in a cycle that started with "Cowboy Justice" (2006) and "Little Things Run The World" (2008). "I wanted a band that rocked," Allison says, and he clearly got his wish. The first two albums featured a fusion (note the lower-case f) of the rock and jazz idioms, marked by the pairing of Steve Cardenas's guitar with Ron Horton's trumpet over the rhythm section. Think Free continues the theme with Shane Endsley replacing Horton, but Allison ups the ante by adding violinist Jenny Scheinman to the mix. It's a brilliant choice.
The first two albums were direct, often angry responses to the George W. Bush era (with titles like "Tricky Dick" and "Man Sized Safe," Allison didn't exactly qualify as a Bush Ranger). Think Free carries a lot of the same rage, but it seems to be resolving into something more hopeful. By the time you reach "Green Al," the final track, you get the sense that things may be looking up. Let's hope.