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

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LABELS: Motema
ALBUM TITLE: Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations
WORKS: Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations
PERFORMER: Geri Allen, Marcus Belgrave, David McMurray


Geri Allen has worked with many major figures (a special distinction is that she’s among the small handful of keyboard players to have performed with Ornette Coleman) and she has been involved in some testing performance contexts. Yet, for some reason, she has never garnered the public or critical recognition accorded, say, Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau.


Crossings completes the trilogy begun with Allen’s excellent 2010 project, Flying Toward the Sound. It pays tribute to the musical life of Detroit in general and Motown and the celebrated high school, Cass Tech, in particular. Belgrave and McMurray join her for two tracks each; otherwise these are solo performances displaying her customary lyricism, quiet technical command, thoughtful exploratory instincts and restrained emotional dimensions. The album is full of melodic and harmonic invention, not least in paraphrases of Motown classics like ‘Tears of a Clown’, as well as subtle, genuine feeling and many passages of elegant beauty. 

Barry Witherden