Award-Winning Pianist GERI ALLEN
Explores The Great American Songbook of her Hometown with
GRAND RIVER CROSSINGS:
MOTOWN & MOTOR CITY INSPIRATIONS
Available now on Motéma Music
Solo Piano Soul-Jazz Odyssey Featuring Special Guests
Marcus Belgrave and David McMurray
Motéma Music is proud to release celebrated pianist-composer-bandleader Geri Allen’s new album, Grand River Crossings: Motown and Motor City Inspirations. The recording marks Allen’s fourth for the label and third in a trilogy of solo recordings beginning with the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship project, Flying Toward the Sound, followed by her spiritual Christmas exploration, A Child is Born in 2011, and culminating this year with Grand River Crossings.
Named for the main thoroughfare in her hometown of Detroit, Grand River Crossings is a highly personal reflection on an influential time and place in America—a cultural crossroads—with Motown at the center of it all.
Allen’s first recollection of exposure to the Motown sound was at age seven when she heard Marvin Gaye’s“I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” the music clearly had a profound effect on the young girl. Allen states: “The music and the poetry still blows my mind each time I hear it. Marvin Gaye was an improviser. You can see and hear it in videos of his live performance. His sensibility, open fearlessness and soulful beauty can be heard on songs like ‘What’s Going On’, the iconic Civil Rights Anthem. The music continues to connect to our lives today almost as though it were just recorded yesterday.” Sighting many critical and historical flashpoints in the history of African American culture, Allen notes that Berry Gordy’s Motown Records produced an anthology of hits and, more importantly, a soundtrack for a generation. That soundtrack includes the work of those who are now known as some of the most influential artists of the 20th Century—Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, among others.
On this recording, Allen carefully crafts a collection of songs into something truly personal. Her own compositions sit comfortably next to known anthems and pop hits. Allen’s musical performance ties together the choices of repertoire she lovingly culled from the classic Motown & Motor City Songbook and in doing so, she further stakes her claim as one of a long lineage of masterful African American artists from Detroit, who have shaped the fabric of music history. On Grand River Crossings, she deftly merges and integrates genres— from the old to the modern, from spirituals to the blues and beyond creating a one-of-a kind listening experience.
Fellow Detroit Cass Tech High School classmate, Greg Phillinganes, the legendary producer and musical director, writes in the liner notes for Grand River Crossings: “through a body of work spanning 13 albums, Geri has become a force of nature with this, her latest offering.” He continues by saying, “Welcome to the ‘New Classical’ music…”