Reviews that mention Geri Allen

January 20, 2012

Trio 3+ Geri Allen

Celebrating Mary Lou Williams: Live At Birdland New York
Intakt CD 187

A modernist salute to Mary Lou Williams, a pioneering woman composer/pianist, from Geri Allen, a contemporary stylist with similar talents, the remarkable factor about this disc, may be Allen’s choice of playing partners: the members of Trio 3. A band which more commonly works with spikier fare, the sounds on Trio 3’s CDs usually falls chronologically between what is created by the dedicator and the dedicatée.

Williams (1910–1981), was pianist and chief arranger for Andy Kirk's Twelve Clouds of Joy during the heyday of Kansas City Jazz in the 1930s; went on to be a friend and champion of early Boppers such as Thelonious Monk; composed suites and orchestral pieces throughout her life; and before the end of her career even preformed a duet concert with Cecil Taylor. Although the guiding force behind this pleasantly mainstream salute to Williams was Allen, an academic, post-Bop stylist, and a friend of Williams’ confident Peter F. O’Brien S.J., the Trio’s drummer Andrew Cyrille, worked with Williams early in his career, and more prominently spent an extended stint in Taylor’s unit. MORE

August 14, 2006


Zodiac Suite Revisited
Mary Records M104

By Ken Waxman

Designating this as a disc by the Mary Lou Williams Collective rather than as the more saleable Geri Allen piano trio confirms the purpose of the session. Part of an ongoing campaign by The Mary Lou Williams Foundation to keep contemporary the music of Williams (1910-1981), Allen and company extend and interpret Williams’ Zodiac Suite from 1945 and other pieces, ending with an Allen salute to the pioneering composer-pianist.

This is much more than one of those dates where singer X salutes Ella Fitzgerald or pianist Y runs through his favorite Thelonious Monk material. Williams, whose career highpoints stretched from being chief arranger and composer for Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy in 1930s Kansas City to a dual piano disc with Cecil Taylor in 1977, was constantly innovating. Pianistically, Williams’ style linked stride master James P. Johnson, innovative swing pianists Art Tatum and Earl Hines to the bebop-modern jazz advances of Bud Powell, Herbie Nichols and Monk. MORE