Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2005, Day 3
The final performance was highly anticipated but sadly did not deliver. Pianist Geri Allen is always a beautiful player. Her contributions on Day 2 to Charles Lloyd's music reinforced that. She doesn't play or record as a leader all that often so the chance to hear her in trio as the main melodic voice was intriguing. Unfortunately, the rhythm section of Kenny Davis (bass) and Mark Johnson (drums) was too brash and bombastic to allow Allen's delicacy and intelligence to come through. During the set, Allen dedicated a song, "Angels, to Mal Waldron. Allen in many ways recalls that great pianist and some of his albums recorded in Europe during the '70s. However, those albums featured less-than-stellar rhythm sections but still were successful because Waldron would lead strongly.
At the performance in the sacral Gesù, Allen was swept up by her unsympathetic trio and played to their deficiencies. Davis played too fast and Johnson too loud (after having seen Hussain just hours before, Johnson's hand drumming was unremarkable). As a result, the same could be said for Allen, a tragedy for someone so talented. When playing with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden, or Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, Allen rises to her potential. Even the night before with Larry Grenadier and Eric Harland, she was crisp, expressive and multi-faceted. This correspondent's recommendation would either for her to have used the Lloyd rhythm section again or continue the solo piano theme started the night before with Fred Hersch and Bobo Stenson. Either one would have been an improvement.
Continue: Day 4