Thursday, August 15, 2013

Geri Allen Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations Motema 2013

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The great city of Detroit may be facing hard times but in the same uplifting spirit that personifies the music of a cultural landscape, Geri Allen embraces a soulful and soul filled approach with her most stunning release to date, Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

Set to street on Sept. 10th, Geri Allen is releasing a uniquely personal if not highly ambitious recording that is a somewhat autobiographical look at a musical time and place not only in her own life but in the lyrical heartbeat that continues to define the cultural landscape today. Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations is an incredibly organic and deconstructed riff on her own music as well as two other Detroit giants in trumpet player Marcus Belgrave and jazz legend Gerald Wilson. These tunes alone could be the genesis for a noteworthy release but Allen meticulously integrates Motown classics from yesterday and today along with spiritual and the blues to create a melodic patchwork quilt of color, texture, and depth you can touch.

New improvisational music for a new age.

Take everything comfortable and safe about the standard cover tune and push it to the side. Geri Allen deconstructs and reharms classic music from Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the iconic songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland to make these American popular standards into personal by products of her own cultural experiences. "Tears of a Clown" and "Inner City Blues" transcend the idiom of popular music and move to a special hybrid of emotional depth brought forth from a place well past the heart and take "Soul Music" to a dimension that has been largely untapped to this date.

While the original Motown classics were anthems to, for and about African American culture, Allen's artfully conceived arrangements are presented with a uniformity in performance and appeal that while humanistic in approach is incredibly academic in appeal. This is the fourth Motema release for Allen and firmly establishes this Detroit great as having found her musical home and in doing so releasing one of the finest improvisational recordings over the last twenty five years. The traditional review is almost an exercise in redundancy when considering Grand River Crossings but humor me as I have a job to do: 

Five_star_rating : Five stars ratings Stock Photo
Tracks: Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'; Tears Of A Clown; That Girl; Grand River Crossings I; The Smart Set; Let It Be; Space Odyssey; In Appreciation; Baby I Need Your Lovin'; Itching In My Heart; Stoned Love; Grand River Crossings II; Inner City Blues; Save The Children; Nancy Joe.

Personnel: Geri Allen: Piano; Marcus Belgrave: Trumpet; David McMurray: Alto Saxophone.