Geri Allen received her early jazz education studying with the regarded trumpeter Marcus Belgrave at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. She further pursued jazz at Howard University and moved to New York, where she studied with veteran bop pianist Kenny Barron. After earning a Masters in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to New York in 1982 and associated herself with the Brooklyn “M-Base” crowd that surrounded Steve Coleman before embarking on a career of live and recorded performances, collaborating with the best of contemporary jazz.
Allen is the quintessence of what a present-day mainstream jazz pianist should be. Well-versed in a variety of modern jazz styles from bop to free, Allen steers a middle course in her own music, speaking in a cultivated and moderately distinctive voice, respectful of, but not overly impressed with, the doctrine of conservatism that often rules the mainstream scene. There is little conceptually that separates her from her most obvious models — Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Bill Evans primarily among them — yet Allen plays with a spontaneity and melodic gift that greatly transcend rote imitation. Her improvisational style is at various times both spacious and dense, rubato and swinging, blithe and percussive. It's a genuinely expressive, personal voice; her music is an amalgam — honestly conceived, intelligently accessible, and well within the bounds of what is popularly expected from a jazz musician of her generation.
Allen has been a Steinway Artist since 1992.