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The Printmakers

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Album Review

Geri Allen's 1984 debut as a leader is a far cry from her better-known releases. The pianist leads a trio with drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Anthony Cox through a set consisting of advanced original compositions. Her opener, "A Celebration of Life," initially focuses exclusively on Cyrille's mouth percussion (followed by a drum solo) before she and Cox make a belated entrance to turn it into a delightful African dance, cast in a post-bop setting. Her haunting tribute "Eric" (dedicated to the late Eric Dolphy) is a dissonant melody reminiscent of the compositions of Dolphy's associates Jaki Byard and Charles Mingus. "M's Heart" is another moving bittersweet ballad, building from a repeated motif into a tension-filled solo. "Printmakers" is yet another furious vehicle for the trio and a stimulating one. "Andrew" is an eerie, twisting theme featuring Cox's moody arco bass and Cyrille on tympani, accompanying Allen's mysterious ballad. Released by the European based label Minor Music, this brilliant CD unfortunately seems to have lapsed from print. This session will prove to be an ear-opening experience for those familiar with Geri Allen's more mainstream work.


Born: 12 June 1957 in Pontiac, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Geri Allen is the quintessence of what a present-day mainstream jazz pianist should be. Well-versed in a variety of modern jazz styles from bop to free, Allen steers a middle course in her own music, speaking in a cultivated and moderately distinctive voice, respectful of, but not overly impressed with, the doctrine of conservatism that often rules the mainstream scene. There is little conceptually that separates her from her most obvious models -- Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Bill Evans primary...
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The Printmakers, Geri Allen
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