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Geri Allen & Kurt Rosenwinkel: A Lovesome Thing

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Geri Allen & Kurt Rosenwinkel: A Lovesome Thing
Geri Allen and Kurt Rosenwinkel had a duo date as part of the Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris in 2012. They flew in on the night from separate cities to play for a packed audience. They had only played together a couple of times and this concert was the first and only time they played in a duo together. There was no rehearsal. Perhaps surprisingly, this was an evening when the stars aligned and the night was a complete success. Fortunately, the results were recorded and can be heard on A Lovesome Thing. To add to the magic, the concert took place at the Philharmonie de Paris, a venue renowned for first rate acoustics.

Geri Allen was a pianist with a gift for expressive improvisation, able to meld her artistic style in a host of ways and directions. She recorded with some of the most notable names around including Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Ron Carter and Ornette Coleman. She was an ethnomusicology graduate and used her knowledge to delve into the work of Eric Dolphy and also bebop pianist, Mary Lou Williams, later reinterpreting her work. She was widely influential and explored music ceaselessly. She died from cancer in 2017.

Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most influential and distinctive jazz guitarists of his generation. Often using unusual picking and legato techniques, his influence extends beyond jazz and affects his contemporaries in the worlds of pop and rock. He commands high respect as an innovator and is a distinctive composer. Like Allen, he has recorded with many notable names both as a leader and a side person.

Given the location of the recording, the album opens, appropriately, with a song from a Francophile. Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing" is given a wistful and contemplative interpretation, matching the introspective nature of the composition. George Gershwin's "Embraceable You" finds Allen and Rosenwinkel using Herbie Hancock's arrangement of the song, interweaving their melodic lines before the guitar sets off on a gentle solo with Allen providing soothing rhythmical support. The roles are then reversed, their empathy unmistakeable. A Rosenwinkel composition follows, "Simple #2," Allen provides gentle swing under Rosenwinkel's fluid and light bluesy solo. When Allen takes over the reins, it is surprising how closely interlocking their styles and sounds are.

The marvellous acoustics of the venue, mixed with the quality and warmth of the recording, are apparent as the guitar drifts in to the melody of Thelonious Monk's, "Ruby My Dear." The piano joins and the pair provide the song with a fitting romantic atmosphere. The set finishes with the engaging "Open-Handed Reach." This was penned by Allen in tribute to Dr. Billy Taylor and is the only recording of this song.

This is a gentle, mellow and exquisite recording which rewards deep listening. Across the five tracks, their synergy is clear and the piano and guitar tones blend to create an improvised and interwoven soundscape. A studio recording was going to be the next step, regrettably fate had other plans.

Track Listing

A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Embraceable You; Geri’s Introductions; Simple #2; Ruby My Dear; Kurt’s Introductions; Open-Handed Reach.

Personnel

Album information

Title: A Lovesome Thing | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Motéma Music

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