The Artists - Geri Allen

Geri Allen – American pianist, band leader, composer, and educator. Born Pontiac, Michigan, June 12, 1957 – performed in the JAZZPAR 2003 Combo featuring Lars Møller, Buster Williams and Billy Hart.

Geri Allen grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and was at an early age captured by the vitality of Motown’s music scene. At the age of seven she started playing the piano. She continued her musical education at universities in Washington and Pittsburg and became a Master in ethnomusicology. In 1982 Allen moved to New York. Early stints included work with Oliver Lake and Dewey Redman, and Betty Carter. She also worked with James Newton and Steve Coleman’s M-Base. In 84 Allen published „Printmakers“, the first record under her own name. In the late 80s she embarked on trio collaborations with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Since then she has mostly been with her own groups, one record features Ron Carter and Tony Williams.
   Several years Geri Allen taught at Howard University and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She puts a decisive emphasis on the roots of jazz. But bebop seems to lie close to her heart with Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock as key figures. Other important mentors are Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, and Andrew Hill. She ascribes a strong influence on her playing to Eric Dolphy.
   Geri Allen has managed to extract a fully integrated musical language out of today’s musical melting pot. Her vivid lines are punctuated with signature dissonant harmonies and intense use of space. Her playing is on the edge, unpredictable, fearless, precise and authoritative. By means of her delicately attuned touch she can play extremely softly without losing her special combination of tenderness and intensity. Her performances stir our emotions and challenge our minds with their manifold variety, shifting moods and layers of rhythmic patterns. She is a formidable technician and immensely sophisticated improviser who explore spontaneously evolving structures.
   Geri Allen received The JAZZPAR Prize in 1996.

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