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New Album PAST IMPERFECT
PAST IMPERFECT comprises 17 original tracks of ballads, jump blues, jazz-pop, folk, and fast-paced theatrical tongue-twisters anchored by a piano trio and featuring horns and harmony vocals. The songs are populated with romantics, strivers, gamblers, hucksters, suckers, cheaters, and greedy bastards all with stories to tell about wild adventures and quiet observations, about relationships and love, and ultimately about how we come to care about each other.
Album available now (CD or Download)
“Allee presents a splendid, alternately heartfelt, charming, gently reflective and incisively pointed fictionalized chronicle of colorful characters... A brilliantly poetic storyteller. The joy of the album is never knowing what tempo, vocal timbre, subject or style (jazz, blues, pop, folk, you name it) his powerhouse ensemble is going to treat us to next.” - Jonathan Widran, JW Vibe
Songs from Shakespeare with a Be-bop Twist
"Backed by a fine jazz ensemble, it is Allee's slick composing, dramatic delivery, and acting chops that make this recording a standout."
- All About Jazz
A new collection of unconventional, humorous, and romantic songs inspired by the immortal Bard of Avon, Willy "The Shake" Shakespeare, Bardfly is composed, arranged, and adapted by John Allee based on lyrics from the plays of William Shakespeare.
Showcasing his wide array of talents as a vocalist, composer, lyricist and dramatic performer, the eclectic 13-track set – in which Allee assumes the persona of Feste “The Bardfly” Johnson – mines compelling verses from a wide swath of the Bard’s canon from Othello to Henry IV as a foundation for everything from blues, ballads and hymns to compelling spoken word and swingin’ ditties.
Bardfly ˈbärd-ˌflī/ n. (pl. -ies) informal: a be-bop balladeer who spends much time drinking in Shakespeare: "a verse-swinging bardfly."
Recorded by Dori Amarilio at Casa Amarilio Studio, Studio City, CA,
Mixed by Jeff Peters at The Pie Studios, Pasadena, CA
Mastered by Nate Wood at Kerseboom Mastering, New York City
Art Direction by John Allee
Cover Art by Michelle Feeley
Photography by Rory Lewis
Special thanks to Susan Allee, Pete & Patty Allee, Moira Walley-Beckett, Barbara Ross & Michael Bassett, Tim Wahl & Julia Strickland
And thanks to Mahesh, to Aaron, Dominic, Javier, Matt, to Dori, Jeff and Nate, to Michelle and Rory, to Jeremiah McNulty Graphics, Michael Lee, Vito Viscuso and Audio Rents, and to Kathleen Ross-Allee
And ever thanks to Adam Ritz, Armin Shimerman & Kitty Swink, Brian & Kahea Mooney, Bridget Hoffman, Chas Harris, Chip Allee, Crystal Robbins & Jim Czerwinski, David Bowen & Bennett Rink, Debra Allee & Dennis Mincieli, Dennis Allee, Don McManus, Don Schlossman, Duane Benjamin, Gayle Stringer & Nancy Nickelson, Gigi Bermingham, Jane Mortifee, Janine Paver & Eric Brown, Jocelyn Towne & Simon Helberg, Joshua Beckett, Julia & Walter Hamann, Lauren & Marc Vahanian, Lisa Abend, Lisa Vidal, Liza Seneca, Luke Stratte McClure, Marnie & Peter Gelfman, Michael Lennox, Michael Marcel, Michael Michetti, Michael Silversher, Peter Van Norden, Phillip Brock, Randall Willis,
Reba Thomas, Richard Hellesen, Roberta Freeman, Sean McHugh, Stephen Lloyd, Steven Robman, Susan Simonson, Sy Devore, Timothy Smith, Trish & Andreas Freund, and to all the groovy and gentle folks who backed this project on Kickstarter
I first met Shakespeare in the second grade while attending the Broadway musical adaptation of "Two Gentlemen of Verona." The show made a big impression on me, especially for its inventive use of frisbee tossing from the box seats, and the incorporation of a litany of expletives that are like so much ear candy to a seven year old. Will and I hit it off and stayed in touch and our first collaboration came ten years later in a production of Benjamin Britten's musical adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" directed by theatre impresario Gordon Davidson for LA Opera, which led to a lifelong partnership that continues to this day.
I wrote many of the "Bardfly" songs for, and first performed them in a theatrcial production entitled "Barfly Shakespeare," written and directed by Matthew Leavitt to whom I owe my gratitude for setting me on to this project. -JA
“This album is a treasure, for both lovers of vocal jazz and classic poetry.” - Thomas Cunniffe, Jazz History Online
Expect Delays is the follow up to John (a.k.a. Johnnnye) Allee's acclaimed album "Unless It Isn’t" which was called a “stunning suite of songs” in American Songwriter magazine.
Allee, who is a recipient of the ASCAP/Sammy Cahn Award for excellence in lyric writing, produced this recording in collaboration with songwriter/producer Phil Swann (Clay Aiken, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton). Jeff Peters (The Beach Boys, Brian Setzer, Stray Cats) was the mixing and mastering engineer.
From the slow, gospel tinged “On Melrose” where our narrator finds himself contemplating the dimples in the seat where his girlfriend once sat, to the propulsive and pianistically virtuosic “I Fail,” a tale of a destructive, but inescapable love affair, the songs on this recording have a confessional, deeply-layered intensity along with a wry and playful soulfulness that percolates throughout. Ballads such as “When Love Comes Down” and “All She Would Say Was I’m Cold” have a theatrical immediacy, with “Sugar Pop” and “Why Couldn’t We Just Forget About Life for A While?” adding a bit of R&B and jazzy fun. In the lament “All She Would Say Was I’m Cold,” an untrustworthy barfly can’t quite figure out why he’s been left, and in “Instant Replay” the singer grapples with the consequences of leaving but not letting go. Things pick up in the love department with “The Right Parts Combine” and “Lucky Day Girl,” each providing a groove to match the catch, and the serene “Quiet Company” brings us in close with the feel of an old-school standard.
Recorded live at the legendary Village Recorders, "Expect Delays" is an intimate set of piano-vocals that proves to be worth the long wait since "Unless it Isn't," once again highlighting Allee’s finely tuned storytelling, personal and poetical style, and sophisticated, emotionally resonant musicianship.
Recorded at Village Recorders, Los Angeles, CA
Mixed, Mastered and Additional Recording at The Pie Studios, Pasadena, CA
Produced by John Allee and Phil Swann
Mixing and Mastering Engineer: Jeff Peters
Engineer: Gabe Burch
John Allee: Piano and Vocals
Assistant Engineer: Alan Demoss
Album Photo: Dylan Patrick
Graphics: Jeremiah McNulty Design
Special thanks to Kathleen, Mom, Dad, Phil Swann, Jeff Peters, Tina Morris, Moira Walley-Beckett, Helen Slater, Marvin Etzioni
"All She Would Say Was I'm Cold"
Music Video from the album Expect Delays
Unless It Isn't
John's Debut Album
"Songcraft with cinematic touches, intricate, original melodies and winning vocal performances... Listen to (Allee's) epic tune, "On the Kern County Line." - Music Connection
"With his solo debut, UNLESS IT ISN'T, Allee reveals a stunning suite of songs that acknowledges his theatrical history and honors his metamorphosis into a modern-day troubadour."
- American Songwriter Magazine
Unless It Isn't is an earthy blend of stripped-down, story driven folk-pop/roots-rock freshly brewed and served up steaming from the American roadhouse. Combining a gentle and fluid voice with acoustic piano, acoustic and electric guitars, and drums, Johnnye's unconventional songs are at once wry, intimate, soulful, cinematic, and poignant.
From the rootsy, ice-house feel of “Everything Will Be All Right,” to the mournful country-flavor of “On the Kern County Line” and “Texas to Tuesday,” the songs on this album have a personal musical style that is grounded in the traditions of the great singer-songwriters from the sixties and seventies. “I'm the Apostrophe” and “Fire is Yellow” take on a heat-hazed swampy intensity with “Torn” adding a measure of ethereal ambience and “Half on the Side of the Leaver” lending gospel tinged raw-boned grit. “That's the Thing of It” introduces an almost symphonic piano-based pop sound, while “A Simple Transpicuous Philippic; or, You’re Not Nice” plays it folk-traditional in an homage to Paul Simon's early send up of Bob Dylan. “Another New York Knockout,” “Hidden in the Crosshairs,” and “I Love You Like This” display crisply poetic lyrics and haunting melodies, with a rich sense of harmony in the elegantly simple arrangements.
Unless It Isn't
Recorded and Mixed at Private Island Trax, Los Angeles, CA
Produced by John Allee
Recorded and Mixed by Christopher Henry
John (Johnnye) Allee: Vocals, Piano
Kevin Holmes: Guitars
John Harvey: Drums and Percussion
Moira Walley-Beckett: Backup vocals
Assistant Engineer: Glenn Connelly
Mastered by Dave Collins at Collins Audio, Los Angeles, CA
Album Photo: Adam Ritz
Thanks to Moira (Moiselle) Walley-Beckett, Kevin (Keb' Ho) Holmes, John (Harv) Harvey, Christopher (Chris) Henry, and to Kathleen (about whom, every song is written...)
"Xmas Piece" is a solo piano track that was recorded at John's home studio while quarantining during the 2020 holiday. ""Home for the Holidays' got a whole new meaning with the arrival of Covid. I wanted to write something to reflect my feelings that would be intimate and contemplative," says Allee. "It puts me in mind of all the love I've been lucky to share with my friends and family at this time of year."
May it fill your home with peace and solace. Add it to your favorite holiday playlists!
John Allee, Piano
Recorded, mixed and mastered by John Allee