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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
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.