Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, featuring Geri Allen
Soul Note : 1988
GA, piano; GH, bass; PM, drums.
One of the great versions of this classic Ornette Coleman ballad. Is it ironic that the song is rendered on piano, an instrument that Coleman studiously avoided for the better part of his career? Is it any less ironic in that it’s performed by a woman? Or more so? Or does it just highlight the stone-cold awesomeness of this song that it can have its context changed so radically without effecting its essence? Whatever the case, the author dug it. Geri Allen recalls: “Ornette came to the studio to hear the ‘Lonely Woman’ playback and liked it! That meant everything.”
Haden and Motian both had twenty years on Allen at the time of this recording, but she steals the show. Her work in the ’80s was a major influence on pianists like Vijay Iyer and (at least to our ears) Ethan Iverson. With her skillful deployment of “in” and “out” modes, her tough angularity and unsentimental lyricism, she made the traditional/avant debates of the decade seem irrelevant. Although this trio performed together for many years, Allen has never entirely fulfilled her early promise to rewrite jazz piano in her own image. In some ways she’s become like Herbie Nichols, who’s covered on Etudes: a player’s player.
The original version of this tune may conjure noirish images of Edward Hopper’s woman alone in a movie theatre. In the the spirit of sistahood, we’d like to dedicate this more modern rendition to the Lonely Woman of 2007. This melody stretches that far.
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-After a slow Fall, we’re returning to posting new tracks every Monday and Wednesday. (Your money back if we fail to maintain this schedule over the long haul.)
-The entries will mostly be shorter than previous – the etude format, if you like. Let us know what you think of the change.