Geri Allen: The Life of a Song (2004)
Senior Contributor since 1997Jim Santella has been contributing CD reviews, concert reviews and DVD reviews to AAJ since 1997. His work has also appeared in Southland Blues, The L.A. Jazz Scene, and Cadence Magazine.
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Geri Allen's piano trio gives her plenty of room to navigate. With her first recording in six years, she's captivating and adventuresome in her approach. Allen, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette forge their reunion with broad strokes and sprightly melodies. A constant motion gives the session life. While the pianist's eight original compositions give her audience new horizons to study, she's made sure that the groove and synchronization of the mainstream remains close. The album's impressions include shades of Detroit's Motown, caricatures of patriotic heroes, daydreams of domestic goings-on, and a nod to those who have brought jazz to where it grows today.
An exciting pianist, Allen turns "The Experimental Movement" on its heels with a powerful attack. The trio's underlying rhythmic current binds her darting phrases together as she moves about energetically. Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" add a symbiotic relief to the program, as the pianist paints her lullaby interpretations with pastel colors. Bud Powell's "Dance of the Infidels" provides the trio with a straight-ahead walk through jazz's tradition, as Allen lets loose with fists full of keys and dynamic strides all over the keyboard. The trio carries this memorable piece to fruition.
Her title track swings with a carefree melody that allows room for each of the three artists to stretch out. Her cohesive trio gives Allen a hearty welcome back as she returns to the studio with her virtuosic technique and rejuvenated love for a lyrical melody.
Track Listing: LWB's House; Mounts and Mountains; Lush Life; In Appreciation: A Celebration Song; The Experimental Movement; Holdin' Court; Dance of the Infidels; Unconditional Love; The Life of a Song; Black Bottom; Soul Eyes.
Personnel: Geri Allen: piano; Dave Holland: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Marcus Belgrave: flugelhorn solo on "Soul Eyes;" Dwight Andrews: tenor saxophone on "Soul Eyes;" Clifton Anderson: trombone on "Soul Eyes."