Geri Allen’s mostly-solo, mostly-jazz-piano album A Child Is Born flows through traditional Christmas songs and hymns with much facility, some invention, and a couple of surprises. Combining all three is “Angels We Have Heard On High”, that most contrapuntal of carols, which in Allen’s hands resembles a Bach three-part invention, albeit one with Keith Jarrett’s harmonic language. The ostinato-driven “We Three Kings” and “Little Drummer Boy” also feel exciting and open, both chordally and emotionally. They highlight an album over-reliant on hymn readings that play it straight, or even drone (“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”). Still, Allen’s brief, original transitional songs sparkle, as does her occasional use of organ and celeste. Pleasant enough when it pops up in a holiday playlist shuffle, this album raises money for Newark’s YWCA and Bethany Baptist Church.
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// Sound Affects
"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.READ the article