Allen to Release Detroit-Themed Solo Piano Album,
Grand River Crossings: Motown and Motor City Inspirations,
September 10 on Motéma Music, and Prepares for
Extensive International Touring With ACS
Pianist-composer-educator Geri Allen will present a special program titled "Geri Allen & Friends Celebrate The Great Jazz Women Of The Apollo," at The Apollo Theater in New York on Saturday, May 11. Under Allen's musical direction, this concert production pays homage to the legendary women singers and instrumentalists who have graced the Apollo stage (celebrating such legacies as Nina Simone, Betty Carter, Nancy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams, Hazel Scott, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Melba Liston and other great jazz women).
Staged by celebrated actress-director-filmmaker S. Epatha Merkerson, through the words and historical narrative of acclaimed author Farah Jasmine Griffin, the program will feature performances by Allen's Timeline Quartet (which showcases tap dancer Maurice Chestnut), GRAMMY® winners - vocalist Dianne Reeves and drum master, Terri Lyne Carrington, as well as saxophonist, Tia Fuller, premier vocalist Lizz Wright, DJ Val Jeanty, and Howard University's award winning Afro-Blue Jazz Chorus (directed by Connaitre Miller), and other surprise guests round out the production's list of performers. Also joining Allen for the performance is guitarist Marvin Sewell, tap dancer Alexandra Bradley, and comedian Karen Malina White.
"I am humbled to share the stage with such an amazing group of artists, and I feel very privileged to be collaborating with S. Epatha Merkerson, and Farah Jasmin Griffin, both brilliant trailblazer's in their respective fields," reflects Allen. "Laura Greer at the Apollo has given us a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to the beloved Grand Dames of the Iconic Apollo Theatre, while acknowledging the significant contributions being made by our present day great jazz women. These women are authentically connected to this time-honored legacy, and it is so very gratifying to join them on stage in celebration and song."
Performances will take place at 3:00PM & 8:00PM.
The performance comes as Allen completes a solo piano album, Grand River Crossings: Motown and Motor City Inspirations, scheduled for a September 10 release on Motéma Music. Her fourth project for the label (and last in a trilogy of solo piano driven albums from Allen released over the past three years), this album takes on a Motown/Detroit theme, which, as a Detroit native, she feels a deep personal connection to. Allen has even gone as far to say that she owes as much to Motown's legacy as she does to the jazz greats for the inspiration of her sound. The album will feature special guests Marcus Belgrave and David McMurray.
"Jana Herzen of Motéma Music is a very important force of creative empowerment today," says Allen. "Being a member of the Motéma family has allowed me the freedom to grow as an artist. I am grateful to Jana for the care and respect she has given to each project."