Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Printmakers

Geri Allen: The Printmakers. Posted by Hello

Women's History Month moves forward at HurdAudio with an active listen to The Printmakers from 1984 by Geri Allen and her piano trio featuring Andrew Cyrille on drums and Anthony Cox on bass.

"A Celebration of All Life" opens this listening experience with Andrew Cyrille's "mouth percussion" solo (both a feat of oral percussive musicianship and close-in microphone technology). After moving this solo to the drum kit Geri Allen and Anthony Cox come in with a rock solid groove. Allen's percussive piano playing sounds like a blend of McCoy Tyner and Abdullah Ibrahim. This is a high energy celebration rendered in the colors of rhythm and harmonic innovation.

"Eric (for Eric Dolphy)" follows with a solo piano introduction that flows naturally into a full trio. The piano work on this track is dazzling as Allen navigates through some complicated harmonic changes. Anthony Cox turns in a great bass solo as the piano and drums ripple around him. This piece flows with lots of surface variation and melodic focus that does call several Dolphy-esque qualities to mind.

"Printmakers (altosaxophonistic poetic type printmakers)" is a blistering, full trio collaboration that builds a rich wall of sound. Allen manages to spin some long melodic lines while also exploring several short rhythmic cells that propel the harmony forward. These three players lock in on one another as this wildly careening composition manages to sustain a texture that seems perpetually on the edge of spinning out of control. It makes for exhilarating listening.

The highlight of this listening experience is the richly polyrhythmic "When Kabuya Dances" for solo piano. Geri Allen's compositions have a real knack for unfolding their inner logic in a way that reveals startling sonic vistas of harmonic and rhythmic development. She is particularly adept at sustaining hard, driving grooves with plenty of detailed variation.

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