Despite its time-honored traditions and universally familiar iconography, Christmas remains a holiday celebrated by each family and even each individual in their own personal style. Pianist/composer Geri Allen offers her own interpretation with A Child Is Born, a collection of traditional and original Christmas music that is profound and exuberant, solemn and joyous, spiritual and intimate.
Allen’s third release for Motéma Music is a solo sequel to her critically acclaimed solo debut, 2010’s Flying Toward the Sound. Where that release paid tribute to three of her creative inspirations – Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Cecil Taylor – A Child Is Born honors equally meaningful but perhaps even more deeply entrenched influences: family and spirituality. She refers to the album as “a joyous Christmas celebration and remembrance of a childhood where love was always unconditional.”
This holiday offering finds Allen at a particularly celebratory time of life. Her tandem 2010 releases on Motéma, the solo, Flying Toward the Sound, and the quartet, Timeline Live, have shown her to be at the top of her game, gaining unanimous acclaim internationally and jostling with each other for space on numerous year-end top ten lists. A 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship helped Allen facilitate her debut solo project on Motéma; and Timeline Live, which features the startlingly talented Maurice Chestnut on ‘tap-percussion,’ has been selling out houses world wide and garnered a career first for Allen: an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Jazz Album, alongside Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, and Bobby McFerrin. National respect for Allen as a virtuosic, innovative performer, composer, and educator (she is currently an Associate Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan) is undeniable, as evidenced by two powerful recent honors of 2011. She was invited to perform in honor of the historic Dr. Martin Luther King Monument Unveiling this August in Washington D.C.
A Child Is Born is dedicated to Allen’s family, in particular to her father, Mount Allen, Jr. and mother, Barbara Jean Allen.
“I am privileged and blessed to have grown up as the child of Barbara Jean and Mount Vernell Allen, Jr.,” she says in a recent news release. “I know God loved me because He gave them to my brother Mount and I. Memories of many loving Christmases with family remain as affirmations of the beauty of life and God’s never-ending love. Today, I share these timeless melodies and personal remembrances with my own children.”