Allen Dennard – Flashback (ENG review)

Allen Dennard Music LCC - Street Date March 22th 2024
Allen Dennard – Flashback

With a few trumpet notes, a bass, a drum, the album opens with “Oasis,” there’s a sense of depth, of questioning, in this opening title. Why this track first on this album, when from the very beginning we feel a kind of dialogue that wants to shout out a number of things to the world? “Flashback” is a series of original compositions composed by Dennard that vividly capture evocations of his childhood as well as recent memories of his youth, including memories of significant events such as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the global protests that erupted in May 2020 following the killing by Minneapolis police of a 46-year-old Black man named George Floyd. So, there’s a form of political engagement here. Dennard, as an organizer within the political organization “Detroit Will Breathe” (the organization that initiated the George Floyd protests in Detroit), has also influenced how he conceptualized, developed, and constructed the album as a whole. Allen’s ambition for “Flashback” was to lead his listeners through a rather personal and harmonious experience that gives them a visualization of the moments Dennard encountered. He also aimed to make his compositions accessible so that the listener could escape the present moment and create a space that allows them to recall their own lucid memories, good or bad.
Allen Dennard perfectly manages to translate this revolt for more justice. These notes start dry, then become more poetic. It’s not a call to hate, just an observation that should make us reflect before reacting. “Flashback” was supposed to be released in the summer of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Dennard had to postpone the release date. During this postponement period, however, Dennard was able to develop what was supposed to be released earlier, adding three additional songs to the album. With the addition of these new songs, Dennard was able to create a 10-track album with the intention that the audience could emotionally, socially, and even spiritually relate to each composition.
This is a form of urban, classic jazz that references the history of jazz. Jazz, yes, from its origins, is of course a form of protest. This trumpeter and composer started playing trumpet at the age of 9, starting with the brass band. Throughout his school years, over the years, he began studying musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, and Roy Hargrove, to name a few. Towards the end of his senior year in high school, Allen had the privilege of being mentored by the great Marcus Belgrave, one of Detroit’s legendary trumpeters and educators. Since then, Allen’s involvement in jazz has increased significantly.
Spotted at the University of Michigan where he received a scholarship from the university’s jazz department and earned his Bachelor’s degree in jazz studies. From there, he got other crucial opportunities that propelled his musical career forward. In January 2019, Allen was chosen by the Detroit MetroTimes as one of the ten artists they believed would become famous that year. Then things picked up pace, with interviews and concerts aplenty… He also worked with Detroit saxophonist David McMurray from the Blue Note label. Allen Dennard’s story is fascinating. “Flashback” is his first album, a very encouraging success, slipping directly into the ranks of the greats. On the album, Allen Dennard is on trumpet, piano, congas, and vocals – Ian Finkelstein, piano & Rhodes – Jonnathon Muir-Cotton, upright bass, electric bass – Louis Jones III on drums – Nolan Young on tenor saxophone – Stephen Grady on tenor saxophone, Kasan Belgrave on alto saxophone – De’sean Jones on tenor saxophone. A real favorite for an album much more than respectable.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 22nd 2024


Album available on all platforms