The Artistry of… Geri Allen

AO Geri Allen

I heard of the passing of the pianist, educator and bandleader Geri Allen on the same night I was emcee for Robert Glasper Experiment with Kandace Springs as the opening act. The influence and respect for Allen took over everything in the moments that followed. I asked Glasper if he would mind if I said something about the news, if I should. The response was immediate and candid as there was no second thought; no doubt about the importance of Geri Allen to the music. The brief exchange passed through the band and the collective feelings were unanimous. On stage, just before introducing the band, I spoke of Allen and asked the audience for respectful sustained applause. It was electric. In a corner of the world, a corner of the world of jazz, respect for a genuine, sensitive, sharing artist was as shared; it was a respectfully subdued but spirited showing.

Among many deep soulful tributes Esperanza Spalding said: “Geri’s life-sound will emanate forever…

Terri Lyne Carrington called her an inspiring maverick and an exemplary creator, and the great Angela Davis’s words resonate: “Geri Allen’s music will always remind us that we do not have to relinquish our cultural anchors in order to engage in courageous explorations.”