Geri Allen of Detroit started taking piano lessons at age 7, encouraged by her parents to study and appreciate the arts.
She attended Cass Technical High School, a magnet for for musically-gifted teenagers.
She was part of a jazz ensemble at school, and took a lot of her influences from Motown.
She graduated from Howard University with a degree in jazz studies in 1979 and went on to study with pianist Kenny Barron in New York. Later she went to Pittsburgh University and gained a Masters degree in ethnomusicology.
She is also a very talented, award-winning composer. In 1995, she was the first recipient of Soul TrainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lady of SoulÃ¢â‚¬? Award for jazz album of the year for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Twenty One,Ã¢â‚¬? featuring drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have to have a command of the instrument in order to play jazz,Ã¢â‚¬? she pointed out. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And the spontaneity of jazz music makes it even more challenging.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For a musician, it requires a technical realm of virtuosity,Ã¢â‚¬? she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Like Bach does for classical music, Charlie Parker epitomizes the creative expression in jazz. He is one of those artists who has contributed to how the world sees us.Ã¢â‚¬?
Read the full article: Montclair pianist/composer Geri Allen explores the music of the jazz greats