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Live Reviews

Geri Allen Quartet: Philadelphia, USA, December 4, 2010

By Published: December 10, 2010
The second set began with an original from Allen's Geri Allen & Timeline Live (Motema, 2010), also featuring the same personnel as the concert. "For Philly Joe Jones" had the requisite percussive emphasis honoring the great drummer, with Chestnut and Overall trading fours in one sequence. It was possible to see how jazz partly grew out of the variety shows of the twenties and thirties, where musicians, singers, dancers, and standup comics all had something to say to one another. "Lover Man" featured bassist Davis, who employed a lot of unsyncopated straight-eights. He also employed resonant sustaining of notes—no doubt, with the help of his amp—to achieve a vocal effect. Chestnut tapped in a quiet soft shoe manner, and Allen's solo combined elements of stride piano with shades of Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
. "Epistrophy" took off with Overall's jungle beat, then breaking out into swing with some interesting rhythmic changes from Allen, who only stated Monk's melody in a straight-ahead up-tempo at the song's end.

The concert concluded with what amounted to a blues variations by Allen, and for an encore the group performed Monk's "Well You Needn't," which included a piano/drums call-and-response that suggested that jazz's convention of trading of fours and eights may have derived from the call-and-response between preacher and congregation in African American churches. Indeed, Monk did a tour as pianist for a black evangelist in his youth, where he was exposed to many evocative, resurrecting church rituals, including the "ring shout" that he referenced in his onstage rotating twist, that made many people think he was crazy. In this connection, it's worth pointing out a minor omission in the liner notes to Allen's recording, which stated that Monk adopted his middle name (Sphere) in order not to appear square. Monk didn't concoct the name; as Charles Hollander points out, it was his given middle name after his grandmother Sphere Batts, and it was only after he first discovered it in the 1940s that he used it as a moniker to prove he was not square.

This concert represented one of many high level, high powered events in Perez's Jazz Up Close series— often rebroadcasted at a later date on WRTI-FM—and was the second of four Panamonk concerts scheduled for the 2010/2011 season, with Randy Weston
Randy Weston
Randy Weston
b.1926
piano
and Martial Solal
Martial Solal
Martial Solal
b.1927
piano
coming up in the New Year.


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