Motéma Music is proud to present Perfection, the debut recording of the recently formed jazz supergroup comprised of reedman David Murray, pianist Geri Allen and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Perfection, recorded just a week after the passing of Ornette Coleman, is named for a previously unrecorded Coleman composition, which Murray arranged in tribute to his great friend and teacher.
The artists dedicated songs on the album to Coleman and to other heroes who passed on in 2016: Marcus Belgrave, Charlie Haden and Father Peter O’Brien, the prominent confidante/manager of Mary Lou Williams. Williams had a particularly strong influence on the life and music of Geri Allen. Terri Lyne Carrington dedicated one of her songs to Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest living jazz masters, who Carrington had the honor of touring with in 2011.
Each of Perfection’s leaders – Murray, Allen & Carrington – has their own loyal following and a sterling reputation for prolific creativity and innovation. In addition to each member’s considerable artistic achievements, each musician is a renowned educator. This debut marks a new chapter in the long history of successful collaborations between Allen and Carrington and this is the first collaboration that adds the unique sound of Murray. It becomes immediately evident that the chemistry between the three musicians is fantastic.
A collection of deeply poetic and expansive 21st century jazz, the recording showcases original compositions by each artist and arrangements created specifically for this unusual configuration of saxophone, piano and drums. The group first gathered for a performance at Winter Jazzfest in New York City in January 2015. The rousing response of that first collaboration led to more touring and to this powerful recording. As explained in their collective liner notes, “We wanted to present a ‘power house’ of sound that represents who we are individually and collectively, and that exemplifies our affiliation with the traditions of jazz, as well as the influence of what’s happening in jazz today. It’s important for artists to continuously stretch themselves in order to continue to have something to say and to share.” They go on to explain, “This trio, without bass, challenges each of us to engage ourselves differently than we have done in other groups or musical formats.”
The long-developed chemistry between Allen and Carrington is amply evident in this recording as they effortlessly work together to fill the role traditionally played by the bass – namely to create the bridge between the rhythm section and melodic lead. Occasionally Murray will step in to create a bass groove with the lower notes on his bass clarinet or tenor sax, making for a unique type of post-bop recording. While the individual voice of each composer is evident, the three styles combine to create a notably greater whole.
Each of these artists has a reputation for exploring and expanding the boundaries of jazz. The recent losses of Ornette Coleman and of Allen’s mentor, Marcus Belgrave, represent an emotional time of reckoning. It is now up to Murray, Allen and Carrington to uphold and carry on the traditions of social commentary and free jazz, instilled in them by these elders. It was Murray’s idea to bring the song “Perfection” to the program. He learned it in the 1970s from Bobby Bradford, who transcribed it directly from Coleman’s playing in the early ‘60’s. Since Coleman had never recorded it, Murray suggested the trio record it as a tribute and invite three colleagues to join them for it: trombonist and band leader Craig Harris, who had performed and recorded frequently with Coleman; bassist Charnett Moffett, who was not only named after Coleman but also grew up around him, performed with him and is a chief disciple of Coleman’s Harmelodic theory; and young trumpeter Wallace Roney, Jr, who has his own connections to Coleman’s teachings through his mother Geri Allen.
“There are certain extraordinary musicians upon whose shoulders we stand, both because their work is of the highest musical standard and because their ability to teach and inspire is exceptional. This encourages all of us to seek our own excellence and be the best we can be,” writes the trio in their artist statement. “‘Perfection’ is our tribute to the great innovator Ornette Coleman. We will miss him dearly, but the power of his legacy continues through all that he has impacted and will affect many generations to come.”
This inspiring musical offering documents a unique triangle of forces and brings a new and exciting energy to jazz while honoring its past in a way that is beautiful, moving and thought-provoking.