Saturday, December 3, 2011

CD Review: ‘A Child Is Born’ by Geri Allen


A Child Is Born

Let alone the fact that the theme is Christmas music, what jazz pianist Geri Allen has created here is a serious and thoughtful album of masterful jazz. It transcends the label “background music” or even “holiday standards” and she manages to give soul, virtuosity, and emotion back to these works which in most instances have become mundane. Geri has taken like “We Three kings” and “Midnight Clear”, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and  and rearranged them for instruments like Farfisa Organ, celeste, and solo piano, then performed them with all the originality a soul of Mile’s Davis or John Coltrane. In doing so she has left her mark on this music, putting back the deeper, darker meaning and making them sacred again.

She has reinstalled the mystery and the truth into these timeless pieces. They drift to the ears as soft as a whisper, and as sharp as a prayer. In between the carols she weaves improv pieces – Imagining Gina (themes), etc…and ends the album with an improv of “Emmanuel” that is just stunning. Here’s an excerpt:

Geri Allen “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’

Geri Allen is an associate professor of jazz improv at the University Of Michigan, and an internationally celebrate composer and performer. She has worked with a diverse cast of stars from Ravi Coltrane, Dianne Reeves, Liz Wright, and Simone, in a celebration of the life and music of Nina Simone, Donald Walden, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Bill Cosby, Mal Waldron, Sir Simon Rattle, Lee Konitz, Vernon Reid, Jackie Hillsman and Peter Bernard, JoAnne Akalaitis, Clark Terry…well, you get the idea.

Her performances here are just as diverse and personal as each and everyone of us in the way we celebrate and honor this Holiday and in what it means to us as people. You’ll hear influences from Miles, McCoy Tyner, Theolonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor and a few other legendary jazz giants.

A Guggenheim Fellow, her solo debut, Timeline Live

Timeline Live, an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Jazz Album, alongside Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby McFerrin. Needleess to say, this virtuosic, innovative performer, composer, and educator

Is nowhere close to being done.


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Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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