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Live Review: Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival Opening Night

Terri Lyne Carrington puts on a tribute to her friend Geri Allen at the Kennedy Center in Washington

2019 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival
Dee Dee Bridgewater (far left) joins in applauding (left to right) Jason Moran, Ravi Coltrane, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Holland, Val Jeanty, and Maurice Chestnut at the 2019 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival (photo: Jati Lindsay)

This year it made perfect sense for the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival to honor pianist, composer, and educator Geri Allen, who performed at the festival numerous times and passed unexpectedly nearly two years ago at the age of 60. Even more appropriate was that the evening’s homage, MC’d by Dee Dee Bridgewater, was produced by Geri’s friend and colleague, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. A few days before the concert I asked Carrington what she missed most about her friend.

“The thing I miss most about Geri is playing with her,” she said. “Her sense of time and melodic lines were so original, and as I keep playing her music, I realize how great she really was. So happy we have so much of her music to continue to share with the world.”

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Larry Appelbaum

Larry Appelbaum is a recently retired Jazz Reference Specialist in the Music Division at the Library of Congress, where he discovered the tapes of the 1957 Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane concert at Carnegie Hall that were subsequently issued by Blue Note Records in 2005. He is a longtime radio host on WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C.