Geri Allen

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Geri Allen
Allen in 2008
Born(1957-06-12)June 12, 1957
DiedJune 27, 2017(2017-06-27) (aged 60)
Alma materHoward University
University of Pittsburgh
Musical career
GenresJazz, blues, funk, gospel
Occupation(s)Musician, educator, composer
Years active1982–2017
LabelsMotema Music, Polygram, Storyville, Blue Note, Telarc
2009 Detroit Jazz Fest
Allen at Detroit Jazz Fest in 2009

Geri Antoinette Allen (June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and educator. She taught at the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh.

Early life and education[edit]

Allen was born in Pontiac, Michigan, on June 12, 1957, and grew up in Detroit.[1] "Her father, Mount Allen Jr, was a school principal, her mother, Barbara, a government administrator in the defence industry."[2] Allen was educated in Detroit Public Schools.[3] She started playing the piano at the age of seven, and settled on becoming a jazz pianist in her early teens.[2]

Allen graduated from Howard University's jazz studies program in 1979.[4] She then continued her studies: with pianist Kenny Barron in New York;[2] and at the University of Pittsburgh, where she completed a master's degree in ethnomusicology in 1982.[4] After this, she returned to New York.[2]

Later life and career[edit]

Allen with Trio 3 in 2011

Allen became involved in the M-Base collective in New York.[2] Her recording debut as a leader was in 1984, resulting in The Printmakers.[1] This trio album, with bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Andrew Cyrille, also featured some of Allen's compositions.[1]

Allen married trumpeter Wallace Roney in 1995.[2] They had a daughter and a son; the marriage ended in divorce.[2] Allen was awarded the Jazzpar Prize in 1996.[2] In the same year, she recorded two albums with Ornette Coleman: Sound Museum: Hidden Man and Sound Museum: Three Women.[4]

In 2006, Allen composed "For the Healing of the Nations", a suite written in tribute to the victims and survivors of the September 11 attacks.[2] She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008.[2]

Allen was a longtime resident of Montclair, New Jersey.[5] For 10 years she taught jazz and improvisational studies at the University of Michigan, and she became director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013.[1]

Allen died on June 27, 2017, two weeks after her 60th birthday, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after suffering from cancer.[6]



As leader/co-leader[edit]

Main sources:[11][12]

Year recorded Title Label Year released Personnel/Notes
1984 The Printmakers Minor Music 1985 Trio, with Anthony Cox (bass), Andrew Cyrille (drums, percussion)
1985 Home Grown Minor Music 1985 Solo piano
1986 Open on All Sides in the Middle Minor Music 1987 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 1989 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 1989 Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums); one track quartet, with Juan Lazaro Mendolas (flute) added
1989 Segments DIW 1989 Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums)
1990 The Nurturer Blue Note 1991 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 1991 Trio, with Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums); in concert
1992 Maroons Blue Note 1992 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 1994 Trio, with Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums)
1995–96 Eyes in the Back of Your Head Blue Note 1997 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 1997 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 1998 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 2004 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 2006 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 2010 Solo piano
2009 Geri Allen & Timeline Live Motéma 2010 Quartet, with Kenny Davis (bass), Kassa Overall (drums), Maurice Chestnut (tap dance)
2011 A Child Is Born Motéma 2011 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 2013 Solo piano; some tracks duo, with Marcus Belgrave (trumpet); one track duo with David McMurray (alto sax)
2015 Perfection Motéma 2016 Trio, with David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); one track sextet, with Wallace Roney (trumpet), Craig Harris (trombone), Charnett Moffett (bass) added

As sidewoman[edit]

Main source:[13]


Geri Allen portrays jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams and performs with the jazz band in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Russonello, Giovanni (June 27, 2017). "Geri Allen, Pianist Who Reconciled Jazz's Far-Flung Styles, Dies at 60". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fordham, John (July 3, 2017). "Geri Allen Obituary". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 8. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  4. ^ a b c Schudel, Matt (June 28, 2017). "Geri Allen, Versatile Jazz Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Adlet, David R. (June 27, 2017). "Geri Allen, Brilliantly Expressive Pianist, Composer and Educator, Dies at 60". WGBO. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jimmy Page, Geri Allen, Valerie Simpson, Thara Memory to Receive Honorary Degrees | Berklee College of Music". Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  8. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Geri Allen". Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Geri Allen, Pianist, Composer And Educator, Dies At 60". Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  10. ^ "Howard University Jazz Ensemble – Benny Golson Award". Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  11. ^ Jazzlists: Geri Allen: leader and co-leader discography. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  12. ^ "Geri Allen Discography", Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  13. ^ Jazzlists: Geri Allen sidewoman: main albums and selected single artist collections. Retrieved November 22, 2017.

External links[edit]