Allen Hoist

Allen HoistJust Before Spring
Allen Hoist
(Arco – 2001)
by Carmen Miller

The thing that struck me most was the energy in this mixture of latin and modern jazz, with a good measure of a capella and scat vocals thrown in the mix. At first hear, the vocals on the uptempo version of Stevie Wonder’s All I Do were pretty standard, but by the end of the song I was bopping right along with the vocal harmonies. The title track Just Before Spring is primarily a capella, with some horn and piano lines along the way for accent. It is reminiscent of the old Persuasions and a joyous song. Rue Manin is a sultry sax piece that belongs in a Paris cafe after dark, just where Allen probably came up with it.

Then it’s back to the a capalla and percussions with a smooth rendition of the Ellington classic Caravan. Hoist’s vocals are a little rough here, but he carries it off by delivering an excellent and long) scat session. One For The Road features some nice bass work by Etìenne Mbappê and keyboards from Mario Canonage, as well as Hoist’s unique vocals. Hoist wrote or co-wrote all but two of the songs on the CD, and he re-arranged the other two to suit his vocal and musical style. In the future I’d like to see Hoist spread the vocal duties around with a Kurt Elling type to get more out of some of his songs, but all in all this is a solid, enjoyable release from a previously unknown artist (to me at least).