Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Get It? Got It? Good.

Artist: Geri Allen
Album: Eyes...In the Back of Your Head
Source: Promo

I don't feel like I'm bragging when I say that it's the rare album that totally stumps me. And I'm not talking about albums that take some time to open up in my ears - I've worked with "growers" like Versus' The Stars Are Insane that didn't instantly yield their depths to me, and some of my favorite discs take a little time. Most of Yo La Tengo's catalogue takes years to fully unfold, and I swear it took nearly a dozen spins through Bill Frisell's Blues Dream before I even noticed the horn section.

But this Geri Allen disc just has me stumped. I've listened to it many times since getting it in 1996. I've seen her live (comped at Zanzibar Blue for previewing her appearance there), I've studied up on her (she's married to trumpeter and Miles Davis protege Wallace Roney, for instance), I dig the other musicians on the disc (Ornette plays sax twice, her husband helps out, and Cyro Baptista adds his particular percussive flair) and I've even got another record of hers that blows me away - The Year of the Dragon, with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. I mean, how hard can this be?

But when I listen to it, I just don't get it. Sometimes it sounds formless, sometimes it sounds crowded, sometimes minimal and sometimes quite beautiful. I just can't seem to get my head around it, slip inside the record and get carried away by the music. In fact, I just listened to it the other day, in preparation for this entry...and I can't recall a note of it, with the exception of Baptista's odd, shaking percussion on one of the early tracks.

I've worked with Geri and with this disc, and I'm no further along than I was in '96. What gives?

SISOSIG? I'm torn - on the one hand, I've had it with this album, which has had a decade to grow on me; on the other, I've had too many experiences where I didn't "get" a disc until much, much later. I'm tempted to keep giving this one another shot (and another...), but I'm also ready to pack it in and move on. Any thoughts on which way to go here?


  • Since some things have to go, always "chuck a loser".

    By Anonymous gil hodges, at 1:13 PM  

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