Rob Dixon / Steve Allee Quintet Ft. Amanda King & Derrick Gardner

“Standards Deluxe” // Self-produced - Available
Rob Dixon / Steve Allee Quintet Ft. Amanda King & Derrick Gardner

The whole interest of this album lies in Rob Dixon’s perspective on jazz standards and the poetry he brings to each track. On this side, arrangements of rare subtlety are present, in which Dixon has a vision akin to that of a filmmaker, capable of conjuring up sublime settings in just a few notes. Starting with a version of “Caravan” that is exemplary and commands admiration. Some of you may be familiar with this saxophonist, while others may not, so here’s some information about this artist: Saxophonist Rob Dixon has collaborated, played, and recorded with numerous national and Indianapolis-based groups, including Illinois Jacquet, Rufus Reid, composer Bill Lee, the Count Basie Orchestra, Weldon Irving, Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Tribe Called Quest, the Cleveland Heritage Jazz Orchestra, drummer Mike Clark, the Headhunters, Cyn Layne, Melvin Rhyne, Charlie Hunter, the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, composer and pianist Steve Allee, guitarist Dave Stryker, and the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
These are indeed very serious references, so it’s no surprise to find a lineup of highly skilled artists on this album: Rob Dixon on tenor and soprano saxophone, Steve Allee on piano, Amanda King on vocals, Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Nick Tucker on bass, Greg Artry on drums (tracks 1-6), and Kenny Phelps on drums (tracks 7-12). Amanda King works wonders, remaining both very classic in her interpretations while giving them a particular lyricism. From my point of view, this is a very good choice because many of us, for example, still have in mind the version of “Caravan” performed by Manhattan Transfer. Amanda King, through her talent, imposes her style with elegance and delicacy. Indeed, “elegance” is certainly the word that best sums up this album, with the delicacy of each musician’s interpretation perfectly serving the tracks.
Certainly, there is a tendency at the moment to revisit the past in jazz, which is a good thing when inventiveness is present, as seen with personalities like Wynton Marsalis or here with Rob Dixon. Rob Dixon is an adjunct professor at IUPUI and Earlham College and is the artistic director of the Indy Jazz Fest. He mentors the Jazz Futures, an ensemble sponsored by the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation composed of talented high school students from various high schools in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. This local presence is well-deserved because we need talented teachers everywhere to nurture young talents who will be the jazz stars of tomorrow, and having such teachers is a guarantee for the future.
“Standards Deluxe” is an essential album, both for jazz enthusiasts and lovers of beautiful arrangements, as well as for music students who will find here a very fine example of what can be achieved with such experience.

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

PARIS-MOVE, March 10th 2024


Rob Dixon’s website

Steve Allee’s website