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Trio 3 + Geri Allen: At This Time

Nic Jones By

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The trio of Lake, Workman and Cyrille is, by now, seasoned in the right way. All three players are relative veterans and the depth of their shared musical understanding is obvious in everything they do. This time, Geri Allen's pianist's skill is an amalgam of Paul Bley and Andrew Hill harmonically speaking, though it's only fair to emphasize that such names are merely points of reference, to accentuate the self-contained nature of her musical output.

All the experience implied here wouldn't amount to much if the music produced led to a whole lot of nothing, but the opposite is true. The shared group identity does not result in the negation of the members' individual voices. The trick is pulled off with no little skill, especially with reference to Eric Dolphy's "Gazzeloni." If ever a musician was equipped with the resources and trenchancy of opinion necessary to do justice to Dolphy's perhaps increasingly enigmatic music, then Oliver Lake's the man. He turns in a solo to prove it, all irregular intervallic leaps and off-kilter ebullience.

Lake's "Long Melody" provides a reflective interlude, proving that the mood comes easily when a group is as empathetic as this one. The subtle dynamics don't diminish the momentum of the piece, but it's not as if velocity is something the performance overtly strives for. In the interest of those dynamics, both Allen and drummer Andrew Cyrille deploy an augmented vocabulary and the end result creates a craving for more of this shaded, essentially timeless methodology.

Cyrille's reflective "Tey" offers proof—if ever needed—that he's one of the highly select band of drummers who also happen to be distinctive composers. Lake, on flute, portrays James Spaulding in his ability to bring two different sensibilities to bear on both his alto saxophone and flute work. The result is compelling, especially as the entire band has a collective and highly evolved understanding of tension and release. When Allen starts in on her solo, it's a quietly glorious moment in itself, rendered all the more so by the individual yet entirely unmannered essence of her playing.

"Barbara's Rainbow" is a group credit, and assuming it's an in-the-moment creation, it's a credit to this group's ever-present shared understanding. Lake has always been a distinct stylist on soprano sax too, and here he proves the point once again, much to this album's benefit.


Track Listing: Swamini; Gazzeloni; For Patrick L.; All Net; Current; Lake's Jump; Long Melody; Tey; Barbara's Rainbow; In The Realm Of The Child Of True Humanity Within.

Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto saxophone (1-7, 9, 10), flute (8); Geri Allen: piano; Reggie Workman: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.

Title: At This Time | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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