Written by Patrick Jarenwattananon from WBGO-FM
For the better part of three decades, pianist Geri Allen has been widely recognized as one of the fiercest and most inventive pianists in improvised music. Her projects have a way of being historically informed and on the leading edge at once, and her current touring quartet, Timeline, is no exception. With longtime bassist Kenny Davis and the inventive young drummer Kassa Overall, Allen adds the percussive wildcard of tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. The band harkens back to jazz traditions past; at the same time, it belongs in the swimming-in-rhythm present.
Take a group of heavyweight jazz masters — the kind who helped to make the classic records that defined the modern idiom — and put them together on stage: Of course there’ll be fireworks. But the all-star collection known as The Cookers has cohered into a band which has toured for five years now, and released three albums of mostly original compositions. Their latest, 2012’s Believe, proudly captures this band’s meat-and-potatoes spirit, and brings some deserved attention to its members’ storied and ongoing careers. The Cookers authentically deliver the adventurous loose assembly of hard-bop’s past, a hard-swinging flavor that remains vital today.
Geri Allen and Timeline precede The Cookers on stage at the 92Y Tribeca in downtown New York City, as part of the WBGO concert series The Checkout: Live. WBGO and NPR Music present a live radio broadcast and online video webcast of the twin bill on Wednesday, Dec. 12 starting at 8 p.m. ET. For the full concert archive of this series, visit npr.org/checkoutlive.
Geri Allen and Timeline