A Lovesome Thing
Release Date: November 24, 2023
Labels: Motéma Music and Heartcore Records

The delicate masterwork, A Lovesome Thing allows the magical synergy between the late and legendary pianist Geri Allen and the innovative and very much in-demand guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to be heard for the first time on record. For friends and fans of Geri Allen, who were heartbroken by her untimely death in 2017, this release offers a blessed opportunity to hear her voice (both musically and literally) once again and to experience a magical evening of music that was especially important to her. 

Terri Lyne Carrington, one of Allen’s closest collaborators notes, “This is an important album in the rich legacy of Geri Allen recordings, and I believe the fans of Kurt Rosenwinkel will be quite delighted as well!” “Everybody wanted to play with Geri Allen –” began Allen Morrison’s July 2022 Downbeat feature, inducting her into the Downbeat Hall of Fame. “...Ornette Coleman, Betty Carter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, Esperanza Spalding, David Murray, Terri Lyne Carrington, and on and on.” Add to that list the great Kurt Rosenwinkel, who invited her to sit in with his band at the Jazz Standard in July of 2012. The simpatico was strong.  “Geri was so impressed with the flow and the freedom of the music she experienced during that one night that she urged me to arrange another performance with Kurt as soon as possible,” explains Ora Harris, Geri’s long-time manager. “So Anders Chan-Tidemann, Kurt Rosenwinkel’s manager at the time, and I put our heads together and were able to book a duo date for Geri and Kurt to perform later that year at the Jazz à la Villette festival in Paris.“  The concert took place on Sept 5th, 2012 before a packed and hugely appreciative audience at the famed Philharmonie de Paris, a stunningly beautiful hall with world-renowned acoustics.

Allen and Rosenwinkel flew in that night from separate cities. There was no rehearsal. Yet in a mesmerizing display of improvised musical telepathy, they wove a harmonious tapestry, enthralling their listeners with layers upon layers of ambiguous yet mystically elegant and expansive expressions.  The tones of the guitar and piano merged and re-emerged in a dense and majestic field where musical ideas budded, blossomed, turn to seed, and sprouted anew as the artists thoroughly re-imagined Strayhorn, Gershwin, and Monk and each revealed two delightful and never-before-recorded originals.  As their instruments became extensions of their beings, notes flew between them as if an unseen hand was directing this intimate conversation between maestros.  It was soul-stirring, and lovesome.

“There was a strong bond between Geri and myself: a beautiful internal smile, a deep respect.” Rosenwinkel relates.  “I am so grateful we had the opportunity to work together. We talked through the years about projects we wanted to do, songs we wanted to play, but alas, we only had the chance to play a few times. This concert was the first and only time we played duo together. There was no rehearsal.”

The artists were so caught up in their musical collaboration that night that they mutually vowed to memorialize their creative bond in the studio soon.  “Geri spoke often to me of her desire to record with Kurt,” says Motéma founder and director Jana Herzen. “And it was an idea I was keen to pursue.”  Fate, however, had other plans, and the dream of a studio date died along with Geri when she succumbed to complications related to cancer in 2017. 

She was just sixty. Her death shocked the jazz community. Messages of respect and love poured in from the far corners of the jazz world evidencing Allen’s quiet, yet totally pervasive influence on contemporary jazz.  “In this music, there was before Geri Allen and after Geri Allen. She’s that important,” wrote pianist Ethan Iverson.  “She truly has had a great influence on my style and approach to music thanks to her innate genius,” wrote Herbie Hancock.  “Her spirit and legacy will live on forever,” said McCoy Tyner, who Allen herself had tributed with her solo masterwork “‘Flying Toward The Sound,” which marked her 2010 Motéma debut.

In his album note, Rosenwinkel comments that “Geri was a powerful force: a master musician and a true Magician. I felt a connection with her –  the level of interaction with the subtle planes, the inner lives of spirit and contact with the universe. We felt it in the music, something magical happening, and I believe you can hear it in this recording,” Indeed we can hear it.  The guitarist proved to be a perfect musical soulmate for the soft-spoken Allen, whose sensitivity was as legendary as her playing.  If she were here, she would surely endorse Rosenwinkel in equally glowing terms, as did the New York Times, which commented, “Kurt Rosenwinkel can say more in a few lines (of music) than most guitarists manage over the course of an entire career.” 

Motéma’s founder and president,  Jana Herzen, who oversaw the release of four prior acclaimed Allen albums, worked in loving detail with Rosenwinkel as well as with illustrator Jenya Hitz, mastering engineer Alan Sliverman, and Motéma’s long-time graphic artist Rebecca Meek to create the Lovesome package. For those who revere the legacy of Geri Allen, admire the virtuosity of Kurt Rosenwinkel, or simply appreciate the enchanting allure of piano and guitar jazz, this album serves as a portal to an ephemeral moment when music transcended the mundane and reached the sublime. 

The release of A Lovesome Thing finds Rosenwinkel in a watershed moment as he tours to support the four Heartcore albums that he’s released since January of 2022: Undercover, Berlin Baritone, The Chopin Project, and Kurt Rosenwinkel Plays Piano.  Happily, he will be joining Motéma in Paris on as part of a three-night celebration of the label’s 20th Anniversary releases to take place at the Sunset/Sunside Club in Paris on November 2–4.  On Nov 2 & 3, the Afro/jazz/flamenco trio Flamenkora and Mongolian piano sensation Shuteen Erdenebaatar (with her Quartet) will celebrate their debut recordings, and then on November 4, Rosenwinkel will close out the celebration with music from A Lovesome Thing performed with pianist Gerald Clayton who previously worked under Allen’s wing in her ‘Errol Garner, Concert by the Sea’ project.  

ADAM FEIBEL
JAZZFM
"The late pianist Geri Allen and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel are featured on a new album called A Lovesome Thing, the first time the pair are to be heard together on record." Check out the news story here.

STEPHEN GRAHAM
MARLBANK
"What a gift from the past to hear this today - a unique document and welcome reminder again of the very special sound of Geri Allen speaking to us so personally once again." Check out the full review here.

BURAK SULUNBAZ
DARK BLUE NOTES
"The tonal similarity of the piano and guitar, the sublime arrangements that spontaneously form while performing in telepathic harmony, the astonishing success in timing and the musical beauty that emerges from the combination of all these make for a very successful live recording that every music lover will appreciate." Check out the full story here.

EDITOR
ALL MUSIC
"Their playing is rapturous, enveloping, like looking for constellations in the night sky. It's a vibe they sustain throughout the concert." Check out the full review here.

DAVE LINN
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"It is both ethereal and down to earth throughout, due to each musician's approach in seeking to further explore the melody and harmonics." Check out the full review here.

CRAIG BYRD
CULTURAL ATTACHE
"Allen was one of the most sublime musicians of her time." Check out the full review here.

JIM HYNES
MAKING A SCENE
"As mentioned at the top, words cannot possibly do this justice but maybe a few will suffice – mesmerizing, jaw-dropping, enchanting, dreamlike, beguiling, classy, sophisticated, and eminently accessible. " Check out the full review here.

LARRY BLUMENFELD
THE WALL STREE JOURNAL 
"Recorded in 2012 at the Philharmonie de Paris, this album testifies to the easy rapport between the innovative pianist, who died in 2017, and the guitarist. " Check out the full review here.

TURGAY YALCIN
DARK BLUE NOTES
"The duo, who had only played on the same stage once before, took the first opportunity to re-experience the perfect harmony and played from different cities without even having a chance to rehearse." Check out this feature on their new releases list in Turkish here.

GENE SEYMOUR
THAT GENE SEYMOUR
Check out this mention on editors best of 2023 list here.

NEIL DURGGAN
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"This is a gentle, mellow and exquisite recording which rewards deep listening." Check out the full review here.

EDITOR
JAZZ TRAIL 
"They emanate a natural and relaxed aura that permeates the music, leaving it imprinted with their distinctive musical signatures and tremendous improvisational capabilities." Check out the full review here.

FRED KAPLAN
TRACKING ANGLE
"Yet they make a perfect fit, Allen’s lush chords, streaming glissandos, and sparkling rhythms meshing seamlessly with Rosenwinkel’s bell-like tone, sometimes in near-unison, sometimes trading off melody and harmony, sometimes veering away from the tune while retaining its spirit, as in a riff on Herbie Hancock’s arrangement of “Embraceable You.”" Check out the full review here.

PIERRE GRIOUX
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"In this compellingly evocative composition filled with harmonic coloration, Allen and Rosenwinkel proved that the beauty of jazz is not just in the notes played but also painted a portrait of collaboration between the musicians." Check out the full review here.

NEIL DUGGAN
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"A duo with clear synergy creating a gentle and mellow soundscape." Check out the editors full best of 2023 list here.

MAL STANLEY
ABC
Check out the full review here.

TAKEHIKO TOKIWA
JAZZ LIFE
Check out the full review in Japanese here.

EDITOR
CULTURAL DENUNCIATION  
Check out this feature on the editors playlist here.

LARRY BLUMENFELD
JAZZIZ
"...Allen plays both lush chords and the spidery yet graceful lines she was known for, subverting harmonies and rhythms without disturbing the music’s flow..." Check out the full article here.

JOE LANG
NEW JERSEY JAZZ SOCIETY 
"The music is subtle and enchanting as they complement each other with their two minds working as one." Read the full review here.

LUDOVICO GRANVASSU
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Check out this feature on the editors best of 2023 list here.

EDITOR
JAZZIZ
Check out the full best of 2023 list here.

DEE DEE McNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS
"This is a collector’s gem!  It sparkles with artistic brilliance and features the one-and-only recorded collaboration between two jazz icons; Geri Allen & Kurt Rosenwinkel" Check out this stellar review here.

SCOTT YANOW
LA JAZZ SCENE
"The music is thought-provoking, a bit historic, and easily recommended." Check out the full review here.

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"Allen, for her part, weaves in and around the guitarist, coaxing here, responding here, and always adding warmth." Check out the full review here.

JOHN MURPH
DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE 
"This duet album will have you screaming at the gods after each listening. Why? Because the rapport between Geri Allen and Kurt Rosenwinkel is so exquisite that you feel robbed by the fact they weren’t allowed to explore deeper into it." Check out the full review here.

TOM HULL
THE ARTS FUSE
Check out this critics choice poll here.

LANCE LIDDLE
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"Ruby My Dear, arguably my favourite track although how can you rate any one track higher than the other on an album such as this?" Check out the full review here.

EDITOR
JAZZIZ
"A Lovesome Thing captures the synergy between the much-missed pianist Geri Allen and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel." Check out this feature on the editors playlist here.

KEVNI LE GENDRE
JAZZWISE
"Indeed, the artistic empathy between Allen and Rosenwinkel makes this programme of standards and originals a ‘wish you were there’ affair." Check out the full review here.

MICHELLE MERCER
CALL AND RESPONSE
"Geri Allen could interpret the entire modern history of jazz piano in her improvisation." Check out the full review here.

SIMON ADAMS
JAZZ JOURNAL
"The two took to the stage and delivered a sublime concert, the first and only time they ever played together." Check out the full review here.

ALLEN MORRISON
DOWNBEAT
"It was just such a beautiful and metaphysical experience to listen to her play, not just the notes but also the spirit." Check out the full review here.

KEN DRYDEN
THE NEW YORK JAZZ CITY RECORD
"Both musicians enjoyed playing in a free-flowing manner that allowed plenty of room for improvising." Check out the full review here.

MAXIM SCHULZ
PASTE MAGAZINE
Check out this feature here.

RK
VINTAGE GUITAR
"From start to finish, her harmonic brilliance meshes flawlessly with his low-keyed, powerful eloquence." Check out the full review here.

ALLEN MORRISON
DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE
"Each track has a palpable sense of yearning and mystery. One hears the artists trying to conjure something sacred as they delicately converse, feel, support and finish each other’s sentences." Check out the full review here.