On Thursday trumpeter Jeremy Pelt begins a four-night stand at the Jazz Showcase with his excellent quintet. The group is strong, and all the members are bandleaders in their own right, including superb tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen. Next Tuesday Allen’s trio with bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston releases its fourth album, The Matador and the Bull (Savant).
Over the past four years they’ve emerged as arguably one of the best saxophone trios in jazz, with a crisp, direct, and malleable sound. Sonny Rollins may have done the most to establish the template for this difficult instrumental formation, but Allen’s sound borrows more from John Coltrane, though he’s concise in a way that Trane abandoned in his exhaustive, seeking solos—all but two of the 12 tracks on The Matador and the Bull are shorter than four minutes. Allen and his cohorts have plenty to say within those confines, though, and they’ve never sounded more tapped into one another than they do here.