Geri Allen

Geri Allen ( born June 12, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American jazz pianist, composer, ethnomusicologist and high school teacher.

Life and work

Geri Allen attended the Cass Technical High School in Detroit, where she was a student of Marcus Belgrave. First experiments in jazz she made in the Detroit Jazz Development Workshop. She then studied at Howard University in Washington, DC, where they then also taught; from 1979 she played at Kenny Barron in New York. This was followed by a degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh before 1982 Allen settled back in New York.

In New York she worked with Oliver Lake, Joseph Jarman and Lester Bowie; her debut album was recorded in 1983. Cook and Morton evaluate Allen as technically savvy pianist, who with all the elements of jazz piano history united in their style, like Bud Powell, Monk, echoes of Cecil Taylor, as well as lesser-known jazz pianist Herbie Nichols and Mary Lou Williams. Does it influence is also of non- pianists such as Eric Dolphy, whose ideas they reflected in their compositions.

The more avant-garde elements of their game they showed in their early album The Printmakers in 1984, accompanied by Anthony Cox and Andrew Cyrille. As a member of the musicians ' collective M-Base she played with Steve Coleman's Five Elements band, participated in its first three albums 1985/86 with and toured with them the end of the 80's through Europe. This period also saw the collaboration with Frank Lowe 1982, Oliver Lake ( " Expandable Language", 1984) falls, David Friedman ( Shades of Change) and Franco Ambrosetti ( Movies) 1986.

In the second half of the 1980s she worked with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian; The result were the albums " Etudes " on Soul Note and " segment " on the DIW label. In 1990, the trio at New York's Club Village Vanguard. With the albums " The Nurturer " (1990) and " Maroons " (1992) Geri Allen deepened her interest in compositions and structures arranged in an enlarged configuration, with musicians such as Marcus Belgrave and Kenny Garrett. Much acclaimed result of this development was the Verve album " The Gathering " from 1998, including Wallace Roney with Robin Eubanks, Vernon Reid, Buster Williams, Lenny White, Mino Cinelu and multi-instrumentalist Dwight Andrews.

Allen also worked with musicians such as Betty Carter ( on the album Feed The Fire ), Bobby Hutcherson, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, Dewey Redman, James Newton, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette together and participated in more than one hundred albums, including two CDs with Ornette Coleman; to their regular partners included, inter alia, the musician Arthur Blythe, Julius Hemphill, Lester Bowie, and Charles Lloyd. In the film Kansas City by Robert Altman, she played the role of Mary Lou Williams.

Geri Allen taught as a visiting professor at Howard University; they clothed a associate professor of jazz piano and improvisation at the School of Music, Dance & Theatre from the University of Michigan.

Awards and prizes

In downbeat Kritikerpoll Allen in 1993 and 1994, particularly appreciated as a talent, what greater attention deserved. She was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, the SESAE Special Achievement Award and the Eubie Blake Award and received the 1996 the first woman to highly doped Danish Jazzpar Prize.

Disco Graphical Notes

  • The printmakers with Anthony Cox, Andrew Cyrille, 1984
  • Homegrown, solo album, 1985
  • In the Middle with Marcus Belgrave, Rayse Biggs, Mino Cinelu, Steve Coleman, Robin Eubanks, David McMurray, Shahita Nurallah, Jabiru Shahid, Lloyd Storey, Tani Tabbal, 1987
  • Twylight with Tani Tabbal, Jabiru Shahid Sadiq Bey, Eli Fountain, CT Bell, 1989
  • In the Year of the Dragon with Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, 1989
  • Segment with Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, 1989
  • The Nurturer with Marcus Belgrave, Kenny Garrett, Robert Hurst, Jeff Watts, Eli Fountain, 1991
  • Maroons with Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Roney, Anthony Cox, Dywane Dolphin, Pheeroan akLaff, Tani Tabbal, 1992
  • Twenty One with Ron Carter, Tony Williams, 1994
  • Eyes ... In the Back of Your Head with Ornette Coleman, Wallace Roney, Cyro Baptista, 1997
  • Some Aspects of Water with Palle Danielsson, Lenny White, Johny Coles, Henrik Pedersen Bolberg, Kjeild Ipsen, Alex wind field, Michael Hove, Uffe Markussen, 1997
  • The Gathering with Wallace Roney, Robin Eubanks, Dwight Andrews, Vernon Reid, Ralphe Armstrong, Buster Williams, Lenny White, Mino Cinelu, 1998
  • The Life of a Song with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, 2004
  • Timeless Portraits and Dreams, 2006 with Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Carmen Lundy
  • Flying Toward the Sound, 2010 solo


  • The Art of Jazz and the Creative Process. In: International Jazz Archives Journal. 1, 3, 1995, p 89ff.