University of Pittsburgh
April 18, 2016

Pitt Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert April 20

Pitt Jazz Studies Program Director Geri Allen to accept 2016 Jazz Hero Award

Sharon Blake


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PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble—a Department of Music ensemble and student organization of some 30 music and nonmusic majors—holds its annual Spring Concert at 8 p.m. April 20 at Pitt’s Bellefield Hall Auditorium, 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland. The department is within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Tickets, available only at the door, are $10 for general admission and $5 for students.

Pittsburgh jazz vocalist Sandy Dowe will be featured in a program that will include jazz classics by Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver, and many others.Geri Allen

Shortly into the event, Pitt Jazz Studies Program Director Geri Allen will accept the 2016 Jazz Hero Award, presented annually to more than two dozen national figures by the Jazz Journalists Association during April, National Jazz Month. 

The association says this year’s heroes demonstrate the prominence of women and Americans of diverse ethnic backgrounds who support jazz. The group includes musicians, writers, philanthropists, and founders of jazz organizations and festivals.

They are being celebrated throughout the month in their hometowns and will convene for a gala awards party on June 15 at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. 

Pittsburgh trombonist, jazz educator, composer, and jazz historian Nelson Harrison nominated Allen for the award and will make the presentation Wednesday evening. In his submission, he said: “Since she has been in Pittsburgh, Professor Allen has opened the Pitt Jazz Studies program to dozens of collaborations with community groups, attracted the Erroll Garner Archive to be housed at the University, and held celebrity artist residencies and seminars throughout the years … We welcome her with open arms as a beacon in Pittsburgh’s jazz community.”

About Geri Allen
Geri Allen, jazz pianist, composer, and educator, earned her master’s degree at Pitt in ethnomusicology.

After her studies at Pitt, she went on to New York City in 1982 and built a career performing and collaborating with some of the world’s leading artists, including Ornette Coleman, Betty Carter, George Shirley, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Dwight Andrews, Robert Hurst, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Billy Taylor, Marcus Belgrave, Ravi Coltrane, Jimmy Cobb, Charles Lloyd, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, and many others.

She returned to Pitt three years ago to lead the Jazz Studies Program.

Allen was nominated this year by the 58th Annual Grammy Awards for her work as co-producer of Erroll Garner’s newly rereleased album The Complete Concert by the Sea in the Best Historical Album category. The Complete Concert by the Sea also was nominated by the 47th NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Jazz Album, and Allen was acknowledged for her part as co-producer. 

The Erroll Garner Archive is now housed in Pitt’s University Library System and represents an extensive collection of music, audio recordings, awards, photos, and correspondence donated to Pitt by the estate of Martha Glaser, Garner’s longtime friend, manager, and advocate.

Allen continues to participate in the Erroll Garner Jazz Project to invigorate the musical and cultural legacy of Garner and support African American community-based jazz initiatives.

Allen received a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition in 2008. She is also the first recipient of the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Jazz for her LP 21 which featured icons Tony Williams and Ron Carter in a trio setting with Allen. She was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award for Geri Allen and Timeline Live, a tap quartet project “celebrating the continuity of the jazz and dance legacies.” Allen is the first woman and youngest person to receive the Danish Jazz Par Prize.