Either a new Geri Allen or David Murray album would be a cause for celebration, but now the pianist and saxophonist have got together and released Perfection with the very welcome addition of Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. And if that wasn’t enough, the title track is a previously-unrecorded composition by the late great Ornette Coleman.
All three, of course, are celebrated bandleaders in their own right. Murray has released dozens of solo albums, Allen and Carrington over 10. But you don’t get your name above the title without years of quality rhythm-section work too, so all three know exactly how to support and nurture a composition.
But what’s really exciting about Perfection – recorded at NYC’s Avatar Studios during June 2015 – is that despite all three of these musicians having instantly-recognisable sounds, they almost instantly achieve a group synergy. A dry, in-your-face mix helps – they could almost be playing in your front room. The lack of bass may contribute too; Murray occasionally provides the low frequencies with bass clarinet or tenor (as evidenced on ‘D Special’), and Allen possibly pays more attention to her left hand than she normally would. Check out her composition ‘For Fr. Peter O’Brien’ for the evidence.
The album also emphasises Carrington’s continued emergence as a first-rate composer. Her ‘Samsara’ is a shimmering ballad in free time, dedicated to her and Allen’s former boss Wayne Shorter (they played together on Wayne’s 1988 Joy Ryder album). Elsewhere, the title track is based on a transcription of an early ’60s Ornette solo, and it’s an arresting, totally worthwhile addition here, also featuring trombonist Craig Harris and bassist Charnett Moffett, both of whom played with Coleman (as did Allen, on the Sound Museum albums). Murray’s composition ‘Cycles And Seasons’ ends with a fabulous section of interplay between Allen and the saxophonist.
Perfection is out now on Motema Records.