Remembering Geri Allen

June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017

Paying tribute to an innovative pianist

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Geri Allen (June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017) was a highly talented jazz pianist who had a unique voice on her instrument.

Born in Pontiac, Michigan, she was mentored by trumpeter Marcus Belgrave at Cass Technical High School in Detroit.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Howard University in 1979 and a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh, she moved to New York in 1982.

Allen began her career working with the Black Rock Coalition and the M-Base movement, touring with Oliver Lake and recording with altoist Steve Coleman.

The pianist released her first album as a leader in 1984 (“The Printmakers”) and gradually moved away from the avant-garde, developing her own post-bop style, which can be heard on albums such as 1988’s “Etudes,” “Twenty-One” (1994), and her set of unaccompanied solos, “Flying Toward The Sound” (2010).

In addition to leading trios, Allen worked and recorded with many major artists, including Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra (1989), Betty Carter (1993), Ornette Coleman (1996), and Charles Lloyd (2002-04).

Song #1 – Personnel:

Geri Allen, piano
Kenny Davis, bass
Jeff Watts, drums

Song #2 – Personnel:

Geri Allen, piano
Esperanza Spalding, bass
Tineke Postma, sax
Terri Lyne Carrington, drums

– Scott Yanow


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