Mon Nov. 4, 2024

A Celebration of All Life – The Music of Geri Allen feat. Anke Helfrich / Lawrence Fields / Danny Grissett (USA/D)

Anke Helfrich: piano
Lawrence Fields: piano
Danny Grissett: piano
Ameen Saleem: bass
Corey Fonville: drums

We start the live stream approx. 1/2 hour before the concert begins (real time, no longer available after the end of the concert). By clicking on "Go to livestream" a window will open where you can watch the concert free of charge and without any registration. However, we kindly ask you to support this project via "Pay as you wish". Thank you & welcome to the real & virtual club!

You won't meet an American jazz pianist or pianist born after 1970 who is relevant today for whom Geri Allen is not an important reference figure. She had moved from Detroit to New York in the early 1980s and her name quickly circulated in the local music scene as an exceptional talent. I got to know her in 1983 when she came to Europe with the James Newton Quartet, whose tours I was organising at the time. She really was a breath of fresh air, her presence as accompanist and soloist in this excellent ensemble, with the also still very young bassist Anthony Cox and elder statesman Andrew Cyrille on drums, also impressed the audience.

After a few concerts, I knew that Geri was exactly the right artist to finally realise my plans for my own record label. We quickly agreed that after another tour with the James Newton Quartet in early 1984, we would go into the studio with the now well-rehearsed rhythm section for their debut. So this album "The Printmakers" was a great start for both Geri Allen and the new Minor Music label.

It is one of the saddest facts in my label's 40-year history that Geri Allen will not be able to celebrate this anniversary. Shortly after her last performance in Vienna and her 60th birthday, she succumbed to cancer on 27 June 2017.

Geri Allen saw herself and her music as part of a cultural continuum that she absorbed, moulded and passed on as a musician and teacher. I remember how she tuned in to recordings by Jelly Roll Morton before a solo programme at the Villa Stuck in Munich in 1985. "Open on all sides-In The Middle" was not only the title of her third album but also an expression of her attitude to life.

A Celebration of All Live is the name of the opening piece by The Printmakers and in this sense it is also the motto of the concert series, in which pianists interpret the music of Geri Allen, but also works by Geri's favourites, from Jelly Roll Morton to Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk to Cecil Taylor and one or two of her own compositions. (Stephan Meyner)