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Geri Allen: Timeless Portraits and Dreams

Geri Allen’s 2004 Telarc debut, The Life of a Song-her first recording in more than six years-underscored her rare combination of dazzling compositional skill and melodically inventive technique. With the release of Timeless Portraits and Dreams, Allen provides solid proof that her career as a performing and recording artist is firmly back on track-and moving full speed ahead. Allen’s compositions have always had personal themes, and with this recording, she touches on spiritual influences. In addition to covering the gospel classic “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (featuring vocals by opera star George Shirley), Allen uses the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on “I Have a Dream.”

Backing Allen throughout are Ron Carter on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums, and by mixing and matching guest artists Donald Walden on tenor sax, husband Wallace Roney on trumpet, vocalist Carmen Lundy and the Atlanta Jazz Chorus, she provides plenty of stylistic variety. Highlights include Allen’s soulful reading of “La Strada,” a strong solo on Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” (with a tip of the hat to Herbie Hancock), and a swinging take on Charlie Parker’s “Ah-Leu-Cha.” Allen’s unique, distinctive keyboard style shines brightly throughout this recording.

Originally Published