“...”Live”, a new album with Timeline, her trio, and the dancer Maurice Chestnut, puts forward some of her best work in years. The sky is not the limit with jazz and tap...It all makes sense when you hear it.” - Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
8 June 2010 — On June 8, composer, performer, and scholar, Geri Allen will follow up her ambitious and critically lauded solo piano project, Flying Toward The Sound (March 30) with her first “live” recording: Geri Allen & Timeline - Live. These tandem releases mark her debut on the Motéma Music label. Fred Kaplan of Stereophile said of Flying Toward the Sound, “...she takes the art well beyond what many might expect of her. The sound quality is also superb: liquid and percussive. Get this, listen closely, and hang on tight.”
Whereas ‘Flying Toward the Sound’ documented Allen’s intimate, completely personal pianistic vision, Geri Allen & Timeline - Live reveals a populist and gregarious side of Allen’s musicality. Allen’s Timeline quartet, which has been touring successfully in the US and Europe for the past two years, represents another facet of the inspirational Geri Allen, in which she embraces the rhythmic grounding and, in fact, the very origins of syncopation through jazz in motion, with an extraordinary ensemble featuring veteran bassist Kenny Davis, and brilliant new talents Kassa Overall on multi-percussion set and tap sensation Maurice Chestnut.
Geri Allen & Timeline - Live is the first “live” recording of Allen’s 30 year career, and was recorded at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. These two exciting live performances feature Allen’s working quartet nimbly and ferociously interacting with each other, reinventing the dialog between the dance and the drums. Timeline celebrates the dance and the music together as one.
“Maurice is completely integrated into the band,” Allen observes, “the drum and dance are at the core of Timeline’s construction. We heavily acknowledge the influences of bebop, and both Maurice and Kassa reference their hip-hop influences. With master bassist Kenny Davis holding it all down we are all creatively free to embrace the entire spectrum of everything we love about this great music we call jazz. In the end, we’re marrying the dance, the drums, and our collective experiences on the wings of improvised music.”
Timeline - Live features four Geri Allen originals as well as compositions by McCoy Tyner (“Four By Five”), George Gershwin (“Embraceable You/Loverman”), Charlie Parker (“Ah Leu Cha”), and Mal Waldron (“Soul Eyes”). There is also a bonus video of the Allen composition “Philly Joe,” recorded live at the 2009 Detroit Jazz Festival. Liner notes by Greg Tate provide a fascinating narrative regarding the interrelated development of jazz and dance in America, along with astute observations regarding Geri Allen’s invaluable contributions to the jazz lexicon. “What’s most remarkable about Timeline - Live” remarks Tate, “is how relaxed, uncluttered and even languid the ensemble sounds, even during the fastest numbers. All this is a testament to Allen’s comfort level and confidence as a veteran bandleader, one who has the fortitude to allow the music to come to her and not force dramatic stuff to happen for pandering effect or easy response.”
Born in Pontiac, Michigan, Allen is one of the first musicians of her generation to move gracefully to and from a diverse array of jazz universes, including those as wide ranging as that of free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman, jazz singer Betty Carter, Trio Three, Charlie Haden and Paul Motion, Charles Lloyd, the Black Rock Coalition and M-Base. 2009-2010 also finds Allen engaged in the yearlong Centennial Celebration of Mary Lou Williams. “I have always known I could embrace the entire spectrum of jazz and have my freedom,” explains Allen. In May 2010, Allen received the MLW Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center.
Flying Toward The Sound (co-produced by Kunle Mwanga) and Geri Allen & Timeline - Live (co-produced by Allen’s long-term manager, Ora Harris) are the latest in Allen’s long list of accomplishments, both rare in magnitude and deep in artistry, and they handily reveal the far ends of the beautiful musical compass that is Geri Allen.
Ms. Allen is an Associate Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan.
The releases will be distributed in the US via Allegro and in Europe and in Israel through Membran.
Upcoming Geri Allen U.S. Tour Dates
• June 12: Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Healdsburg, CA (with Charlie Haden and Ravi Coltrane)
• July 23-25: Iridium Jazz Club, New York, NY (Geri Allen & Timeline - CD Release Shows)
• September 21-22: Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA (w/Don Byron, Oliver Lake and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts)
• October 23: Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. (duo with Patrice Rushen)
• November 11-21: European Tour - Geri Allen (solo)
• December 4: Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA (Geri Allen & Timeline)