“This year the jazz gods have bestowed an early Christmas present upon us“
All About Jazz
“They talk, smile, and come together through their instruments, which are an organic part of their existence. Strayhorn, Gershwin and Monk compositions often grow in interlocking layers, sometimes picking up where the other leaves off; Perfect harmony makes two become one.”
Dark Blue Notes
“This document of an evening’s communion with one of [Geri’s] many worthy collaborators reminds us of her disarming and commanding power and, if only for about an hour, brings all that back.”
Larry Blumenfeld, The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most beautiful albums of the year.”
Jazz News (France)
Motéma Music, in harmonious collaboration with Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Heartcore Records, unveils a musical treasure that has been hidden in the vaults of Cite de La Musique in Paris since 2012. The delicate masterwork A Lovesome Thing allows the magical synergy between the late and legendary pianist Geri Allen and the innovative and in-demand guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, heard together for the first time on record. For friends and fans of Geri Allen, who were heartbroken by her death in 2017, this release offers a blessed opportunity to hear her voice (both musically and literally) once again and to experience a magical evening of music that was especially important to her.
In July 2012, Kurt Rosenwinkel invited Geri to sit in on his date at the Jazz Standard club in New York City. The simpatico was strong. “Geri was so impressed with the flow and the freedom of the music she experienced during that one night that she wanted me to arrange another performance with Kurt,” explains Ora Harris, Geri’s long-time manager. “Kurt’s manager at the time, and I put our heads together and were able to book a duo date for Geri and Kurt to perform later that year at the Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris.“ The concert took place on Sept 5th, 2012 before a packed and hugely appreciative audience at the famed Philharmonie de Paris, a stunningly beautiful hall with world-renowned acoustics.
In a mesmerizing display of improvised musical telepathy, they wove a harmonious tapestry, enthralling their listeners with layers upon layers of mystically elegant and expansive expressions. The tones of the guitar and piano merged and re-emerged in a dense and majestic field where musical ideas budded, blossomed, turn to seed, and sprouted anew as the artists thoroughly re-imagined Strayhorn, Gershwin, and Monk, and each revealed two delightful and never-before-recorded originals. As their instruments became extensions of their beings, notes flew between them as if an unseen hand was directing this intimate conversation between these two masters.
“There was a strong bond between Geri and myself: a beautiful internal smile, a deep respect.” Rosenwinkel relates. “I am so grateful we had the opportunity to work together. We talked through the years about projects we wanted to do, songs we wanted to play, but alas, we only had the chance to play a few times. This concert was the first and only time we played duo together. There was no rehearsal.”
“Geri spoke often to me of her desire to record with Kurt again,” says Motéma founder and director Jana Herzen. “And it was an idea I was keen to pursue.” Sadly, Geri succumbed to complications related to cancer in 2017 at just 60 years old, and the studio date was never realized.
Allen’s death shocked the jazz community. Messages of respect and love poured in from the far corners of the jazz world evidencing Allen’s quiet, yet totally pervasive influence on contemporary jazz. “Geri Allen has always been a shining example of creativity, openness, courage, and selflessness. I have always marveled at her talent as an innovator,” states Herbie Hancock.
Posthumously, Geri was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame in 2022. Writer Allen Morrison noted in the accompanying article: “Allen long ago secured her reputation as a piano powerhouse with dazzling technique, a post-bop composer who, while steeped in jazz tradition, was also a restless, profoundly creative experimentalist. One of the more eclectic pianists in jazz history, she blurred distinctions between jazz and what has come to be called creative or serious music (with a poverty of expression). She could groove, or not; swing, or not; play any style, from classical to bop to free and atonal. Her original investigations of rhythm
In his album notes, Rosenwinkel comments that “Geri was a powerful force: a master musician and a true magician. I felt a connection with her – the level of interaction with the subtle planes, the inner lives of spirit and contact with the universe. We felt it in the music, something magical happening, and I believe you can hear it in this recording.”
Terri Lyne Carrington, one of Allen’s closest collaborators said; “Geri Allen and Kurt Rosenwinkel are beautifully compatible. Their sound and musicality are a perfect fit on this gem recording. So happy it is finally being shared with the world! I always felt that Geri’s chordal motion was very guitar-oriented, so the simpatico between them is no surprise.”
Motéma’s founder and president, Jana Herzen, who oversaw the release of four prior acclaimed Allen albums, worked in loving detail with Rosenwinkel as well as with illustrator Jenya Hitz, mastering engineer Alan Sliverman, and Motéma’s long-time graphic artist Rebecca Meek to create the Lovesome package. For those who revere the legacy of Geri Allen, admire the virtuosity of Kurt Rosenwinkel, or simply appreciate the enchanting allure of piano and guitar jazz, this album serves as a portal to an ephemeral moment when music transcended the mundane and reached the sublime.
- A Flower is a Lovesome Thing
- Embraceable You
- Geri’s Introductions
- Simple #2
- Ruby My Dear
- Kurt’s Introductions
- Open-Handed Reach
- End of Show (Audience)
Geri Allen – piano
Kurt Rosenwinkel – guitar