Mike Allen

Mike Allen

Jazz duo to perform in Langford

Tom Lee Music hosting CD release party for old friends

By Rachel Stern, Black Press

Mike Allen sat in front of a Yamaha C7 piano owned by late Canadian jazz pianist Bob Murphy, an instrument which Murphy affectionately called “Racehorse.”

Ten months had passed since Murphy’s death and Allen was in his friend’s home recording studio finishing songs the two had created together.

“It was a very emotional experience to make music in Bob’s space on his piano without him,” he said.

The two musicians were friends for years, but they never released an album, despite recording songs  together. So Allen worked with longtime musician buddy Miles Black to create Bob’s Piano, which was released Jan. 10.

“It’s an album that pays homage to Bob Murphy and his legacy as a Canadian jazz piano icon,” said Allen. “It’s just a way of keeping him with us.”

Six songs on the album feature saxophonist Allen and pianist Black, while four are compositions Allen and Murphy completed.

The recording session began with reverential overtones, but as the day progressed the two “sensed Bob’s playful spirit in the room” and began to relax, which helped propel their creativity, Allen said.

He was influenced by Murphy’s music career and artistry and it was an honour to continue to put his music and spirit out there. “Bob was a very soulful musician and a spiritual musician.”

After Allen met Black in 1996, the latter became just the second jazz pianist he had worked with after Murphy. “I was just floored when I heard him the first time,” said Allen about Black. “I was so excited to work with such a great musician.”

Having taken up piano at age 11 and playing it professionally in some instances, Allen is best known for his tenor saxophone work. Over the years he has won numerous awards, including a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Jazz Album, and he was a sideman on Michael Bublé’s Grammy winning album Crazy Love.

Allen and Black are touring Vancouver Island this month performing songs from Bob’s Piano and stop in Langford for a Jan. 26 show at the Tom Lee Music Hall starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance from Tom Lee in Millstream Village or $25 at the door.

“I love playing many nights in a row. There is a real thrill to tour and to be playing,” said Allen. The live performances will stay true to the album’s sound, he added, as this will be the first time some audience members will get a chance to hear the music. For more info visit mikeallenjazz.com.



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