Tuesday 11 July 2017

The great Geri Allen

I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing the late Geri Allen just three times; the first was in Birmingham when she played with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

It was a superb co-operative enterprise, the fact emphasised at the beginning of the second set when 'The Geri Allen Trio' was announced. Haden carefully set down his bass on the stage, walked slowly to the front. 'It's the Geri Allen, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian Trio.' The played Song for Che as an encore, after Haden told the sound engineer to turn the pa off.

Next was a Jazzmobile open-air gig at Grant's Tomb on the Upper West Side in New York where she played solo (on the back of a lorry) and accompanied tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.

And finally Sunday night at the Village Vanguard with a quartet and singer Lizz Wright; she played a Charlie Parker blues as her last number and as her solo ended a tenor player strode onto the stage and unleashed a blistering solo. She looked suprised but carried on. It was Azar Lawrence.

I've told these stories before- maybe even on this blog; my excuse is I wanted them to serve as an introduction to Ethan Iverson's excellent article on her work plus the WGBO obituary.