Wings Uncaged is one of my favorite recent albums featuring a female singer because it’s so much of a collaboration. Let’s get this out in the open–Allen’s voice is special and deserves to be well in front. Without her amazing trio, she would still be a treasure and I would still like this album. A lot. She has a tremendous warmth in her powerful and clear voice. You want to listen to her, song after song, both her original compositions and standards such as “Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” and Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves,” and you quickly realize that she’s singing about herself. The original compositions are mighty in their fluency–these are real jazz songs, as real and honest as it gets. But bassist Francois Moutin, pianist Billy Test and drummer Kush Abadey stand out on their own, basking in the spotlight when required, but knowing how important it is to be a vital part of the whole.
Wings Uncaged, therefore, is a stunning meditation on the power of chemistry. Allen’s been making records since 2006–her debut Dream featured her singing in English, French and Portuguese. She’s played with a lot of big names, but it seems that these three are her spiritual home, the place where she feels comfortable and confident enough to deliver a set this impressive. At almost any point in the album you can simply focus on one of the four, and you’ll be rewarded with pure, knowing excitement. It’s that rightness, that feeling that no one else could do it any better. In a nutshell, these four performers need to stay together indefinitely and keep recording albums as wonderful as this. Wow.