Geri Allen, a jazz pianist, composer, and director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh died late last month at a hospital in Philadelphia. She was 60 years old and had suffered from cancer.
A native of Pontiac, Michigan, Allen began playing the piano at age 7. She was a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh.
After completing her master’s degree she moved to New York and began a successful career as a performer and a recording artist with 20 albums to her credit. She taught at the University of Michigan for 10 years before becoming director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.
Kenneth Powell, adjunct saxophone instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, said that “when you look back at women in jazz, she is going to be among the greatest ever. The synergy of her creativity and technical proficiency made her a powerful force that will be acknowledged for years to come.”