Geri Allen's 1984 debut as a leader is a far cry from her better-known releases. The pianist leads a trio with drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Anthony Cox through a set consisting of advanced original compositions. Her opener, "A Celebration of Life," initially focuses exclusively on Cyrille's mouth percussion (followed by a drum solo) before she and Cox make a belated entrance to turn it into a delightful African dance, cast in a post-bop setting. Her haunting tribute "Eric" (dedicated to the late Eric Dolphy) is a dissonant melody reminiscent of the compositions of Dolphy's associates Jaki Byard and Charles Mingus. "M's Heart" is another moving bittersweet ballad, building from a repeated motif into a tension-filled solo. "Printmakers" is yet another furious vehicle for the trio and a stimulating one. "Andrew" is an eerie, twisting theme featuring Cox's moody arco bass and Cyrille on tympani, accompanying Allen's mysterious ballad. Released by the European based label Minor Music, this brilliant CD unfortunately seems to have lapsed from print. This session will prove to be an ear-opening experience for those familiar with Geri Allen's more mainstream work.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden