Picks and Pans Review: Etudes

updated 02/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, featuring Geri Allen

Two venerable jazz revolutionaries join forces with a brash newcomer to the current vanguard in this subtly explosive trio session. Bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian have been friends since the early '60s. Back then Haden provided a swinging anchor for the rambunctious ramblings of free-jazz visionary Ornette Coleman, while Motian was supplying the light-touch propulsion for the romantic ruminations of the late bop master Bill Evans. A decade later Haden and Motian created a hypnotic amalgam of their rhythmic styles as sidemen with Keith Jarrett. Their new collaborator, Geri Allen, is a young pianist who was weaned on the sounds of Motown as well as on those of Thelonious Monk. She is equally at home playing blues, electrified hip-hop and free jazz. Here she engages Haden and Motian in a warm and frequently witty musical conversation that showcases her talent on material ranging from the haunting reverie of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" to the rolling, up-tempo exhilaration of Herbie Nichols' "Shuffle Montgomery" and Haden's "Blues in Motion." Allen is nothing if not versatile. Tiptoeing her way around the relentless, martial tempo of "Sandino's Dance," another Haden original, she sounds a siren's call to arms with a flurry of glistening glissandos. On Motian's "Fiasco," Allen weaves in and out of ragged, lurching rhythms with heavy ostinato figures. And on her own fleet and angular composition "Dolphy's Dance," she alternately vamps, struts and strolls up and down the keyboard. This is jazz at its best, characterized by insistent risk-taking yet remarkably free of one-up-manship. (Soul Note)

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