Published since 2005
R. Emmet Sweeney lives in Brooklyn and writes for the Village Voice and himself.
Geri Allen puts together a stellar trio for this re-visioning of the Zodiac Suite, along with a few other Williams-inspired tracks. Buster Williams is an anchor on bass, hypnotically steady, having worked with Williams occasionally in the '60s and '70s. Billy Hart maintains a meticulously busy touch on the drums during the Zodiac Suite, while Andrew Cyrille takes over for the impressive set of odds and ends afterward.
The suite kicks off with "Aries, a Lady Day and Ben Webster tribute, which slips in a sinuously bright melody among the numerous breaks that Allen handles with brisk aplomb. The ominous "Taurus is dominated by Allen's funereal left-hand line, which is then attacked by the insistent bluesy riff from her right. Buster Williams joins in with a ferocious bass break, and it settles and roils from there. It's a command performance, apt in that it's the sign of Duke as well as lady Mary. My favorite piece is the slow-burning "Capricorn, undergirded by a simple walking bass that is expanded into jackhammer piano runs, before screeching to a halt for some dreamy lyricism. The bass, that most patient of instruments, always brings it back on home though, which in this case is an irresistable syncopated groove.
The final four signs are pieces originally improvised on the radio show, executed by Allen here with lithe grace. All are gems of articulated drama, rising and falling like any good Hollywood weepie. These heart-tugs are well earned though: crisp, clear and achingly honest. "Aquarius is the loveliest of them all, beguiling with its innocent charm and music box melody. It's dedicated to FDR, but its beauty is available to all, including this writer, now unquestionably proud to be a noble Aquarius himself.
Track Listing: Aries; Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo; Virgo; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricorn; Aquarius; Pisces; The BeBop Waltz; Intermission; Thank You Madam.
Personnel: Geri Allen: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums (13, 15); Billy Hart: drums (all other tracks).
Record Label: Mary Records
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.