"Vancouver tenor saxophonist Mike A!len must have had a difficult time trying to decide whether to go with a small combo or a larger unit, and so, he splits the difference. Four of the eight Allen compositions on One Side of a Circle are for quartet (Allen, guitarist Bill Coon, bassist Darren Radtke, drummer David Robbins), while the remaining four are performed by an octet (the quartet rounded out by Brad Turner on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jill Townsend on trombone, Dave Say on tenor saxophone and Miles Black on piano". Either way, the band presents some serious, and occasionally playfull, straight-ahead jazz. Allen is a strong mainstream player who sometimes shows the earthy huskiness of Joe Henderson, and the swing instincts of Chris Potter, two sides of him evident on the quartet number Profit and Suffering. Allen can be a robust bebopper, building chorus after chorus on Rollins' Roots, also a quartet tune (hints of the influence of Sonny Rollins are everywhere on this record). The octet tunes are a full musical meal, with Black's work on piano proving he is one of the best jazz pianists in the country."