Photo credits: Frans Schellekens/Redferns
Geri Allen, a pianist, composer, Guggenheim Fellow, and educator, was born in Pontiac, Michigan on June 12, 1957.
Allen’s last administrative post was as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She was hailed as one of the most brilliant pianists and instructors of her generation. Allen was particularly proud of her two-year collaboration with renowned pianist McCoy Tyner, as well as her musical role in two recent pioneering ensembles: ACS (Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding) and the MAC Power Trio (David Murray and Carrington), whose debut recording Perfection got distributed through Motéma Music in 2016 to critical acclaim.
She became the first female and youngest individual to earn the Danish Jazzpar Prize, as well as the first woman and youngest person to receive the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Jazz. Timeline, her Tap Quartet endeavor, was considered for an NAACP Award in 2011. Allen was the curriculum administrator of NJPAC’s All-Female Jazz Residency over the course of several years, which provided a seven-day, one-of-a-kind experience for young women aged 14 to 25 so they could learn to perform jazz.
Allen was also a co-producer of a re-furbished record project, which brought Erroll Garner’s The Complete Concert by the Sea back to life. This earned her an Essence Image Award nomination. In 2016, she was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award on the strength of the production work on the remastered Garner recording.
She died of cancer complications on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her 60th birthday had just passed her by.