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Geri Allen: “Clear … With Compassion”

Renee Rosnes chats with a fellow keyboard great

Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves and Geri Allen
Lizz Wright (left), and Dianne Reeves (right) join the Apollo Theater audience in applauding Geri Allen at her celebration of jazz's great female artists, May 2013 (photo: Shahar Azran)
ACS--Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington (from left)--perform at Wayne Shorter's 80th Birthday Celebration, Town Hall, NYC, June 2013

As our March issue cover story, we published a conversation between the acclaimed pianist Renee Rosnes and the Wayne Shorter Quartet. Rosnes, a veteran of Shorter’s band, brought the sort of experience-based insight that marks the best musician-to-musician interviews. For this year’s Women in Jazz special issue (September 2013), we asked Rosnes, 51, to reprise her role as journalist for a chat with fellow keyboardist Geri Allen, 56. In late June, at a coffeehouse near their homes in New Jersey, the two artists talked for over two hours, covering Allen’s recent and upcoming projects, her musical development in Detroit, the importance of Mary Lou Williams, what she learned from Ornette Coleman, and much more.

RR: I thought we’d begin with your latest recording, Grand River Crossings: Motown and Motor City Inspirations (Motéma). Growing up in Detroit, I imagine you were inspired by a lot of great music in the area. How did this particular project come together?

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