Geri Allen and Donald Walden Meet Monk
Walden has performed all-Monk programs
for several years, usually with Kenny Cox. This time around Walden was
able to convince former Detroiter Geri Allen to take the piano
chair behind Walden's saxophones. The concert took place at Kerrytown
Concert House in Ann Arbor on April 20th and I was lucky to catch the
second set. The group must have done all of their warm-ups during the
first set, because they were smoking from their opener, "We See."
Geri Allen is a very sophisticated musician with
complete command of the keyboard. She has a delicate touch, but she
can also play with lots of power. On "Round Midnight" her
solo was very lyrical and inventive. Her most colorful and harmonically
advanced solo came on "Skippy," which Walden said was a challenging
tune. He put it this way: "It takes a lot of gall to play this
one, that's why it's called Skippy'!" Walden's solos throughout
the night were perfectly suited to Monk's music, in the same way that
Charlie Rouse's always were. On Monk's theme "Epistrophy,"
he treated us to a driving tenor solo with lots of wit and soul.
Marion Hayden's bass and Randy Gelispie's drums
were a perfect complement to the two main soloists. Hayden had a spunky
solo on "Skippy" and Gelispie had the perfect heaviness and
solidity in his cymbal and snare playing for this kind of hard bop.
It was a wonderful night for hard bop lovers!
photographs by Lars Bjorn