H Allan is a guitar player who likes to shred yet his career has always been closely tied to the saxophone thus it’s natural that the title track to his EP that drops June 19th, “BAM!” was written by and for a sax player. Allan produced the EP and four of the five tracks were mixed and mastered by Robert Martin (Frank Zappa).
Allan’s first job after college was as the artist rep for LA Sax Company and he often traveled with saxophonists to various music education conferences. He brought his guitar with him and after being on the floor all day, he and the artists would head to a local nightclub to sit in with local musicians. During one impromptu jam session in San Antonio with Allan, Young wrote “BAM!” and it was recorded and released on an LA Sax Company compilation CD in 1995 that was distributed to music stores as an instrument demo and was sent to radio stations.
“We had a great time at these spontaneous jam sessions. One night at a river walk bar, we played with a group and Horace wrote this song. I've loved the song and since it was originally done on sax, I thought it should be done on guitar with an all-star cast of the best players,” said Allan, who was joined on the track by Young, drummer Eric Valentine, keyboardist Ron Reinhardt, Keith Vivens (bass and vocal line) and trumpeter-trombonist Steve Jankowski (Nile Rodgers and Chic).
Another saxophonist, Derrick Edmondson (Jody Watley, Chaka Khan), helmed the second tune on the EP, “Rise,” the Herb Alpert gem. Atop a rocksteady groove anchored by Valentine and bassist Darryl Williams, Allan shines on funky rhythm guitar and cool electric lead guitar.
“I wanted to do a song by a trumpet player and there's no more iconic song on trumpet. I thought it would sound cool on guitar in a lower octave: kind of new and hip. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with Derrick Edmondson, who I met at LA Sax. I tried to be authentic to the melody and harmony, but still push it out of bounds a bit for fun. Derrick's arrangement totally fit the bill,” said the Chicago-based Allan who was named H by his parents at birth.
Allan revels in his rock roots on a mashup of “All Along The Watch Tower” and “Stairway To Heaven,” presented on the “BAM!” EP as a chill contemporary jazz medley.
Allan said, “I heard the similarities between these two rock ‘n’ roll classics while playing ‘Watchtower’ at a show and at the end of it, I transposed and went into the guitar solo from ‘Stairway To Heaven’ because it sounded similar. This medley is more rock than jazz so it's straddling the line musically - sort of like me.”
The EP contains two bonus tracks. The first is a rocked-out version of Allan’s debut single, “Stiletto Heels,” a reboot of the original written and recorded by saxophone heavyweight Richard Elliot with whom Allan worked at LA Sax Company. The second is “Love Is A Rose,” a Neil Young song that Allan originally recorded for his mother. The guitar slinger surprises by singing and playing banjo on the track.