Geri Allen

Twylight

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Geri Allen's fifth recording overall, and second effort that features both acoustic and electric instruments, is a stunning display in merging basic natural and spiritual ideas with jazz, funk, soul, space, and tribal elements. Sticking with Metro-Detroit friends like drummer Tani Tabbal, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and percussionist Sadiq Bey and Eli Fountain, Allen's role as a musical sorceress was never more pronounced and uniquely realized. The music, part of her self-dubbed "Black Pool Project," is altogether punctuated by multi-ethnic percussion, while liquid, mercurial, and elusive modal melodies, extended by the fresh harmonic pianistics of Allen, sends this brand of jazz into a third dimension. Tracks like the funky, angular "Shadow Series" have an Asian flavor spiced by her feline synthesizer lines, "Wood" is slowed, very mysterious, and cave-dweller like, "Little Wind" darker and wispy, while "Black Pools" is a circus siren's song, wonderfully macabre and even bizarre. The definitive composition, "A Place of Power," has a memorable piano line plus Allen's brilliant solo sneaking around a light calypso funk expertly rendered by Tabbal. Equally outstanding in a different light, "Dream Time" perfectly represents its sequential title, as quirky, jumpy hooks with a surreal harmonic foundation allows for many layers of subtle rhythms from the percussionists, all cemented by the modal bass of Shahid. Then there's "When Kabuya Dances," a signature song for Allen, as her peaceful, thematic, reverent piano introduction speeds into full-flight fancy, and a kinetic pulse that is magnificent beyond compare. "Skin" showcases a repeat, off-minor theme, "Stop the World" is pure electronica and percussive, while the title track reflects the inexplicable daily shift of light to dark. This is a stunningly beautiful recording marking a distinct progression for Allen, and her complete awareness of the world at large. It might take several listenings to get used to, but the ultimate reward of this high artistic achievement is limitless, as are the possibilities of human endeavor on this Earth.

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