Geri Antoinette Allen (June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and recording artist. In addition to her career as a performer and bandleader, Allen was an associate professor of music and the director of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Allen in 2008
|Born||June 12, 1957|
Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||June 27, 2017 60) (aged|
|Genres||Jazz, blues, funk, gospel|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, educator, composer|
|Labels||Motema Music, Polygram, Storyville, Blue Note, Telarc|
Early life and education
Allen was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on June 12, 1957, and grew up in Detroit. "Her father, Mount Allen Jr, was a school principal, her mother, Barbara, a government administrator in the defence industry." Allen was educated in Detroit Public Schools. She started playing the piano at the age of 7, and settled on becoming a jazz pianist in her early teens.
Allen graduated from Howard University's jazz studies program in 1979. She then continued her studies: with pianist Kenny Barron in New York; and at the University of Pittsburgh, where she completed a master's degree in ethnomusicology in 1982. After this, she returned to New York.
Later life and career
Allen became involved in the M-Base collective in New York. Her recording debut as a leader was in 1984, resulting in The Printmakers. This trio album, with bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Andrew Cyrille, also featured some of Allen's compositions.
Allen married trumpeter Wallace Roney in 1995. They had two daughters and son; the marriage ended in divorce. Allen was awarded the Jazzpar Prize in 1996. In the same year, she recorded two albums with Ornette Coleman: Sound Museum: Hidden Man and Sound Museum: Three Women.
Allen was a longtime resident of Montclair, New Jersey. She became director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013.
- Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee, 2014
- Guggenheim Fellowship, 2008
- African American Classical Music Award from Spelman College, 2007
- The Benny Golson Jazz Master Award, 2005
- Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard, 1996
- Danish Jazzpar Prize (first woman recipient), 1996
- Soul Train's Lady of Soul Award (first recipient) for jazz album of the year for Twenty-One, 1995
|1984||The Printmakers||Minor Music||Trio, with Anthony Cox (bass), Andrew Cyrille (drums, percussion)|
|1985||Home Grown||Minor Music||Solo piano|
|1986||Open on All Sides in the Middle||Minor Music||With Rayse Biggs (trumpet, flugelhorn), Robin Eubanks (trombone), David McMurray (soprano sax, flute), Steve Coleman (alto sax), Jaribu Shahid (bass), Tani Tabbal (drums), Shahita Nurallah (vocals); plus guests Mino Cinelu (drums, percussion), Lloyd Storey (tap dance), Marcus Belgrave (flugelhorn)|
|1989||Twylight||Minor Music||Trio, with Jaribu Shahid (bass), Tani Tabbal (drums), plus Sadiq Bey (congas, percussion), Eli Fountain (percussion) as guests, and Clarice Taylor Bell (vocals) on one track|
|1989||In the Year of the Dragon||JMT||Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums); one track quartet, with Juan Lazaro Mendolas (flute) added|
|1989||Segments||DIW||Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums)|
|1990||The Nurturer||Blue Note||Sextet, with Marcus Belgrave (trumpet, flugelhorn), Kenny Garrett (alto sax), Robert Hurst (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Eli Fountain (percussion)|
|1990||Live at the Village Vanguard||DIW||Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums); in concert|
|1992||Maroons||Blue Note||With Marcus Belgrave and Wallace Roney (trumpet), Anthony Cox and Dwayne Dolphin (bass), Pheeroan akLaff and Tani Tabbal (drums) in various combinations|
|1994||Twenty One||Blue Note||Trio, with Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums)|
|1995–96||Eyes in the Back of Your Head||Blue Note||Some tracks solo piano/synthesizer; some duos with Ornette Coleman (alto sax), Wallace Roney (trumpet) and Cyro Baptista (percussion); some trio tracks, with Roney (trumpet) and Baptista (percussion)|
|1996||Some Aspects of Water||Storyville||With Henrik Bolberg Pedersen (trumpet, flugelhorn), Johnny Coles (flugelhorn), Kjeld Ipsen (trombone), Axel Windfeld (tuba), Michael Hove (alto sax, flute, clarinet), Uffe Markussen (tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet), Palle Danielsson (bass), Lenny White (drums)|
|1998||The Gathering||Verve||With Wallace Roney (trumpet, flugelhorn), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Dwight Andrews (piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, bass clarinet), Vernon Reid (guitar), Ralphe Armstrong (7-stringbass), Buster Williams (bass), Lenny White (drums), Mino Cinelu (percussion) in various combinations|
|2004||The Life of a Song||Telarc||Trio, with Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums); one track sextet, with Marcus Belgrave (flugelhorn), Dwight Andrews (sax), Clifton Anderson (trombone) added|
|2006||Timeless Portraits and Dreams||Telarc||Trio, with Ron Carter (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums); some tracks solo piano; some tracks with Wallace Roney (trumpet), Donald Walden (tenor sax), Carmen Lundy, George Shirley and The Atlanta Jazz Chorus (vocals) added in various combinations|
|2008||Flying Toward the Sound||Motéma||Solo piano|
|2010||Geri Allen & Timeline Live||Motéma||Quartet, with Kenny Davis (bass), Kassa Overall (drums), Maurice Chestnut (tap dance)|
|2011||A Child Is Born||Motéma||Solo keyboards; some tracks with Carolyn Brewer, Connaitre Miller, Barbara Roney and Farah Jasmine Griffin (vocals) added in various combinations|
|2012||Grand River Crossings||Motéma||Solo piano; some tracks duo, with Marcus Belgrave (trumpet); one track duo with David McMurray (alto sax)|
|2015||Perfection||Motéma||Trio, with David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); one track sextet, with and Wallace Roney, Jr. (trumpet), Craig Harris (trombone), Charnett Moffett (bass) added|
With Franco Ambrosetti
With Cecil Brooks III
- The Collective (Muse, 1989)
With Roy Brooks
- Duet in Detroit (Enja, 1989 )
With Betty Carter
With Ornette Coleman
- Sound Museum: Hidden Man (Harmolodic/Verve, 1996)
- Sound Museum: Three Women (Harmolodic/Verve, 1996)
With Steve Coleman
- Motherland Pulse (JMT, 1985)
- And Five Elements: On the Edge of Tomorrow (JMT, 1986)
- And Five Elements: World Expansion (JMT, 1986)
- And Five Elements: Sine Die (Pangaea, 1986) on one track only
With Buddy Collette
With Charlie Haden
- Etudes (Soul Note, 1987)
- The Montreal Tapes: with Geri Allen and Paul Motian (Verve, 1989 )
- The Montreal Tapes: Liberation Music Orchestra (Verve, 1989 )
With Craig Handy
- Reflections in Change (Sirocco Music, 1999)
With Oliver Lake
- Expandable Language (Black Saint, 1984)
- Otherside (Gramavision, 1988)
- Talkin' Stick (Passin' Thru, 2000)
- At This Time (Intakt, 2009)
With Charles Lloyd
With Frank Lowe
- Decision in Paradise (Soul Note, 1984)
With Paul Motian
- Monk in Motian (JMT, 1988)
With Greg Osby
- Mindgames (JMT, 1988)
With Dewey Redman
- Living on the Edge (Black Saint, 1989)
With Wallace Roney
- Dream Come True (GCR 1979 reissued Celeste Japan 2008)
With Woody Shaw
- Bemsha Swing (Blue Note, 1986 )
With John Stubblefield
- Bushman Song (Enja, 1986)
With Gary Thomas
- By Any Means Necessary (JMT, 1989)
- At This Time (Intakt, 2009)
- Celebrating Mary Lou Williams (Intakt, 2011)
With the Mary Lou Williams Collective
- Zodiac Suite: Revisited (Mary, 2006)
- Kansas City (A Robert Altman Film, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Verve, 1996)
- Lars Helgert ([s.d.]). Allen, Geri. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Accessed July 2017. (subscription required).
- Mark Gilbert, Gary W. Kennedy ([s.d.]). Allen, Geri. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, second edition. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Accessed July 2017. (subscription required).
- Russonello, Giovanni (June 27, 2017). "Geri Allen, Pianist Who Reconciled Jazz's Far-Flung Styles, Dies at 60". The New York Times.
- Fordham, John (July 3, 2017). "Geri Allen Obituary". The Guardian.
- Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 8. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
- Schudel, Matt (June 28, 2017). "Geri Allen, Versatile Jazz Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60". The Washington Post.
- Staudter, Thomas. "Making Jazz and Family, Home and the Road Work Together", The New York Times, September 9, 2001. Accessed September 18, 2017. "Her luggage already packed for a late afternoon flight to San Francisco, Geri Allen, a jazz pianist, still had several precious hours remaining before her departure out of Newark, so she was filling the morning in the company of three children, ages 3 to 11. Ms. Allen's husband, Wallace Roney, a trumpeter, had returned home after midnight from an evening rehearsal at Carnegie Hall, and to respect his need to sleep, mother and children romped in the yard until growling stomachs sent them back inside to the breakfast table.... Ms. Allen and Mr. Roney have lived in their three-story frame house in Montclair, a short trip from Manhattan, since 1991." Geri Allen and Wallace Roney were divorced in 2008.
- Adlet, David R. (27 June 2017). "Geri Allen, Brilliantly Expressive Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60". WGBO. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
- "Jimmy Page, Geri Allen, Valerie Simpson, Thara Memory to Receive Honorary Degrees | Berklee College of Music". www.berklee.edu. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
- "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Geri Allen". Retrieved 2019-09-07.
- "Geri Allen, Pianist, Composer And Educator, Dies At 60". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
- "Howard University Jazz Ensemble – Benny Golson Award". music.coas.howard.edu. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
- Jazzlists: Geri Allen: leader and co-leader discography, accessed November 22, 2017
- Geri Allen discography, accessed November 22, 2017
- Jazzlists: Geri Allen sidewoman: main albums and selected single artist collections, accessed November 22, 2017