Pianist Geri Allen plays the jazz greats

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.

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She is also a very talented, award-winning composer. In 1995, she was the first recipient of Soul Train’s “Lady of Soul� Award for jazz album of the year for “Twenty One,� featuring drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter.

She says:

“You have to have a command of the instrument in order to play jazz,� she pointed out. “And the spontaneity of jazz music makes it even more challenging.

“For a musician, it requires a technical realm of virtuosity,� she said. “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.�

Read the full article: Montclair pianist/composer Geri Allen explores the music of the jazz greats