415

Geri Allen: Flying Toward The Sound

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
One of modern jazz's foremost pianists, Geri Allen exhibits a musical profundity that is coupled by lyricism and soul. Whether leading a trio of esteemed peers—Charlie Haden and Paul Motian—at that landmark venue, Live at the Village Vanguard (DIW, 2000), or giving homage to the obscure jazz matriarch, pianist Mary Lou Williams, with Zodiac Suite: Revisited (Mary Music, 2006), Allen is a composer/musician constantly gravitating towards new endeavors.

Such is the case with Flying Toward the Sound (a solo piano suite in eight refractions ), a work that gained momentum after Allen received a 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for Music Composition. Inspired by three great pianists—Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner—the project offers reverence to the spirit of their music, yet eschews mimicry. It sets its own course in a journey that is enigmatic yet personal, complex yet moving, and always evolving with Allen's own vision as she so eloquently states: "It's not like playing transcriptions; it's more about refracting the admiration and love I have for them through my own muse."

The suite is replete with Allen's cerebral compositional and improvisational vigor. Each refraction is prismatic—moments of balladry, grandeur, and abstractionism are contained in the stunning opening title, dedicated to Tyner. Rapid notes forge cascading movements, sheets of sound, and fluid runs in "Red Velvet In Winter (for Hancock)" and flamboyant blues/swing improvisation in "Dancing Mystic Poets in Twylight (for Taylor)."

Motion and spirituality are prevalent in "God's Ancient Sky," the sixteen-minute centerpiece where the pianist's keys travel over assorted soundscapes. Personal reflections are found in "Faith Carriers of Life," dedicated to mothers, and "Your Pure Self (Mother To Son)," for her son Wally—each intimating the pianist's inventiveness and sensitivity suffused in her swinging groove essence.

An added gift is found on the enhanced CD, with three short video excerpts from the film Refractions , by filmmaker Carrie Mae Weems, who collaborated on the project. Jazz has been quoted as being "music that walks a tightrope without a net." Allen's Flying Toward the Sound effectively fits that description—daring, vulnerable, and breathtaking.

Track Listing: Flying Toward The Sound; Red Velvet In Winter; Dancing Mystic Poets At Midnight; GOD's Ancient Sky; Dancing Mystic Poets At Twylight; Faith Carriers Of Life; Dancing Mystic Poets At Dawn; Flying Toward The Sound (Reprise); Your Pure Self (Mother To Son).

Personnel: Geri Allen: piano.

Title: Flying Toward The Sound | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Rising Colossus" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Colossus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Setembro" CD/LP/Track Review Setembro
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Reflections in Cosmo" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections in Cosmo
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.