Geri Allen + Kurt Rosenwinkel
A Lovesome Thing – Live at the Philharmonie de Paris
Sometimes it seems pointless to describe in words music that is so sublime, delicate, and intricately woven into gorgeous layers. That’s the case with this recently unearthed recording from the late, revered pianist Geri Allen and guitar great, master of melody and tone, Kurt Rosenwinkel, in their only duo collaboration, recorded live on September 5, 2012, at the Philharmonie de Paris, a beautiful hall renowned for its impeccable sound. The resounding response from the audience speaks volumes. Terri Lyne Carrington, long an advocate of Allen, before and after her passing, points to Allen’s chordal motion on the piano as very guitar like. As you’ll see in the last lines below, Rosenwinkel has recently issued a piano album. Perhaps that’s a middling explanation for such magical chemistry. There’s little choice but to excerpt from the label’s press release as stated below. (using another’s words instead)
Allen and Rosenwinkel flew in that night from separate cities. There was no rehearsal. Yet in a mesmerizing display of improvised musical telepathy, they wove a harmonious tapestry, enthralling their listeners with layers upon layers of ambiguous yet 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 their instruments became extensions of their beings, notes flew between them as if an unseen hand was directing this intimate conversation between maestros. It was soul-stirring, and lovesome.
As background, Rosenwinkel had invited Allen to sit in with his band at the Jazz Standard in July of 2012 and the compatibility was so striking the respective managers at the time booked this date at the Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris. This remarkable recording has been hidden in the vaults of Cite de La Musique in Paris since 2012. There were subsequent plans to make a studio album which obviously never happened due to Allen’s unexpected, untimely passing in 2017.
The program beings with Billy Strayhorn’s renowned ballad “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” followed by Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” after which we hear Allen’s spoken introductions, her voice like sending chilling emotions to her fond followers, hearing it six years hence. Included is the intro to her original “Simple #2.” The duo then performs yet another stunning ballad, Monk’s “Ruby My Dear” before a brief spoken introduction from Rosenwinkel into his original “Open-Handed Reach.” In the liners Rosenwinkel comments, “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 plane, 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.”
As mentioned at the top, words cannot possibly do this justice but maybe a few will suffice – mesmerizing, jaw-dropping, enchanting, dreamlike, beguiling, classy, sophisticated, and eminently accessible. Though late in the year, it is clearly among this year’s best jazz releases. A MUST LISTEN by any measure.
The release of A Lovesome Thing is optimally timed for Rosenwinkel as he tours to support the four Heartcore albums that he’s released since January of 2022: Undercover, Berlin Baritone, The Chopin Project, and Kurt Rosenwinkel Plays Piano. Happily, he will be joining Motéma in Paris as part of a three-night celebration of the label’s 20th Anniversary releases to take place at the Sunset/Sunside Club in Paris on November 2–4. On Nov 2 & 3, the Afro/jazz/flamenco trio Flamenkora and Mongolian piano sensation Shuteen Erdenebaatar (with her Quartet) will celebrate their debut recordings, and then on November 4, Rosenwinkel will close out the celebration with music from A Lovesome Thing performed with pianist Gerald Clayton who previously worked under Allen’s wing in her ‘Errol Garner, Concert by the Sea’ project.
- Jim Hynes
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