Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Last month, I through a make believe jazz blog listening party. The first of many I plan to host. I played the new albums by jazz pianists Jacky Terrason, Marc Cary and you, the great Geri Allen. All of you are adventurous jazz musicians. Then I asked a group of make believe listeners to comment on the albums. Geri, I know that's odd, but I was trying to have a little fun and approach writing record reviews differently. Anyway, the listeners comments were favorable. They endorsed your solo album "Flying Toward the Sound," but I disliked it because it came across like you're killing time practicing. Solo albums are hit or miss. I've listened to plenty. Off hand, there's three I'd recommend "Solo Monk," "Gene Harris at Maybeck" and "Solo Piano" by Don Pullen.

Your other new album "Geri Allen & Timeline Live," which I received days after the listening party was special. Tap dancer Maurice Chestnut helped make it that, transforming his feet into instruments. I bet the album will be a favorite among jazz critics and jazz bloggers. "Geri Allen & Timeline live" and "Decisive Steps" by saxophonist Tia Fuller are the sweetest projects I've experience this year. Fuller included a 20-second duet with a tap dancer. I wondered why she cut the duet short.

I saw Timeline at the 2009 Detroit international Jazz Festival. The quartet was marvelous. Chestnut's feet worked harder than summer interns. By the third tune, his outfit was sweaty. I left the performance wishing you'd someday cut an album with Timeline. My wish was granted, and I was elated you decided to record live. That's the best way to experience the quartet. How long did it take Maurice Chestnut to gel with the band?

On "Geri Allen & Timeline," Chestnut made his tap shoes sound like mini-percussions. On the opener, "Philly Joe" drummer Kassa Overall hounded Chestnut like a supervisor, but the tapper kept his cool. He matched Overall lick for lick blending perfectly with the drummer cymbal work. On "LWB'S House," you sounded as if you played two pianos. And Chestnut tapped with an extra pair of feet. The riffing with Overall on "Ah Leu Cha" was conversational like two friends gossiping. Geri, I'm going to circulate a petition making it mandatory Timeline never break up.
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