Geri Allen has received international acclaim as a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. In recent years she has appeared as both a composer and a performer at Zankel Hall, The Village Vanguard, and The Black Congressional Caucus, and at such festivals as Caramoor, San Francisco Jazz, First Jerusalem Jazz, and Capetown Jazz (South Africa). She has also toured extensively in Australia and Europe.
Allen has held recent residencies that have included master classes, community outreach, lecture-discussions, and performances at Columbia University, Spelman College (Atlanta), North Carolina Central University in Durham, and the Frederick Douglass School in Harlem. In December 2007 Allen finished a residency during “Geri Allen Week” at Harvard University, where she received the Key to the City of Cambridge from the Honorable Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves.
A recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award for Music Composition, Allen has received Spelman College’s African American Classical Music Award, the Danish JAZZPAR Prize (as its youngest recipient ever), the Benny Golson Award, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Howard University. Along with Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon, she also created the HBO documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, which won a Peabody Award.
Allen’s notable collaborations and commissions include Eric Dolphy Suite, commissioned by Tom Johnson and premiered in Rotterdam, Holland; Lil, with director Joanne Akalaitis; and For the Healing of the Nations, written in memory of the victims and survivors of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and commissioned by The Walt Whitman Center (Camden, New Jersey), the Dodge Foundation, and Meet the Composer.
Allen is presently composing an original solo piano work celebrating jazz greats Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock. Titled Refractions, Flying Toward the Sound, it will be recorded by Motema Records with Allen as the soloist.
Born in 1957 in Pontiac, Michigan, Allen is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently an Associate Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (School of Music, Theater, and Dance).