Dr. Hankus Netsky, chair, Contemporary Improvisation and former chair of Jazz Studies at NEC wants to share these words about her.
Like much of the musical world, New England Conservatory mourns the loss of pianist, scholar, and educator Geri Allen who taught at NEC in the early 1990s.
A consummate musician in every respect, Geri was a gentle but demanding teacher who encouraged her students to broaden their listening, hone every aspect of their musical skills, and develop their classical technique.
She brought a serious diligence to everything she engaged in and championed a truly global perspective on the African-American contribution to twentieth century music. Besides her immersion in the musical world of Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy, it seemed like her playing could go in virtually any direction, for example when she accompanied Betty Carter or recorded with Ornette Coleman.
Her years at NEC were like a dream for me and her students (and I remember well when her daughter Laila was born in 1990 since I believe it was the same week as my first daughter, Leah!). One of my favorite moments from that time was her duo performance in Jordan Hall with bassist and cellist Dave Holland, who also served on our faculty in that era.
Dr. Hankus Netsky, chair, Contemporary Improvisation and former chair of Jazz Studies at NEC