A couple of things come to mind when listening to this recording. One is that all three of the principals were linked professionally to Miles Davis. The rhythm section of Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette were part of Miles' monumental Bitches Brew sessions. Geri Allen's connection is a bit more out of the way in that she was active in a Miles tribute disc called Endless Miles . Like the Art Pepper collaborations with Davis rhythm sections of the middle 1950s, Geri Allen's new release, The Life of a Song , should be subtitled Geri Allen Meets the Rhythm Section.
The second thing is that this disc owes much to the liberation of the rhythm section that took place under Miles Davis during the lifetime of his second great quintet. But I stop short of equating Ms. Allen with two prominent Miles Davis pianists Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock. This trio swings outside of the lines in the way one would expect. Jack DeJohnette is a master of the cymbals. He illustrates his mastery in abundance on every selection. Dave Holland proves why his profile is high in the jazz world with his rock solid support and his sensible and intelligent soloing. Ms. Allen's playing allows the trio's efforts to exist in that wonderful suspended animation that all great jazz has in common.
The Life of a Song is Geri Allen's first new release in six years. A native of Detroit, Miss Allen comes from the same fertile jazz soil that gave birth to the Jones Brothers (Hank, Thad, and Elvin), Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Garrett, and James Carter as well as many others. Collected here are eight original compositions and three standards. Allen directs each piece carefully, giving them the personal attention and touch of a master. Her original compositions are characterized by a percussive texture with a baroque sensibility. She translates this sensibility to the three standards. "Lush Life" is transformed into a post bop ballad heaven. Bud Powell's "Dance of the Infidels" retains all of its bebop character as Allen infuses it with modern rhythms and time changes. Mal Waldron's superb "Soul Eyes" ends the disc with a three horn front, providing an airy listening experience as the earthy melody is partially deconstructed to reveal the song's inner harmonic beauty. The Life of a Song is a strong effort by a collaboration of strong musicians.
Track Listing: 1. LWB's House (The Remix); 2. Mounts And Mountains; 3. Lush Life; 4. In Appreciation: A Celebration Song; 5. The Experimental Movement; 6. Holdin' Court; 7. Dance Of The Infidels; 8. Unconditional Love; 9. The Life Of A Song; 10. Black Bottom; 11. Soul Eyes.
Personnel: Geri Allen --Piano; Dave Holland --Bass; Jack Dejohnette --Drums; Marcus Belgrave --Flugelhorn; Dwight Andrews --Saxophone; Clifton Anderson --Trombone
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.