Geri Allen and All the Jazz
Today was the first live concert I’ve attended in more than a year.
It sure felt good and sounded great. Being with people and listening to music is one of the things I missed most while we were in lockdown. Let’s hope things will get back to normal slowly, steadily, and safely.
The UNLV Geri Allen Tribute Jazz Combo was today’s feature act. They played for 1 hour and 15 minutes on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon outside at the Summerlin Library. The concert was free. However, advance registration by phone was required.
The Geri Allen combo was an all-female ensemble. I enjoyed their music, including many originals. I also learned a few things about how this tribute band came to be.
Years ago, there were very few females in jazz, other than singers. They weren’t taken seriously as musicians, and certainly not as composers. One of the Las Vegas casinos decided to create a gimmick by putting all females in a jazz lounge act, largely based on their sex appeal, which was an insult but also a unique opportunity for the women in the show.
The women decided to take advantage of the spotlight. The female jazz musicians, each more proficient than their male counterparts (because they had to be better to get jobs in music) worked tirelessly. They refined their act on stage and practiced offstage to become better at their craft to the point where no one thought of them as a gimmick anymore.
Geri Allen, who grew up in Detroit and would break many barriers on her own, was an extraordinary pianist and composer was one of the pioneers of opportunities for women in what was largely a male-dominated field. So, the ongoing combo is a tribute to her legacy. She passed away in 2017.
Today was the first time the jazz combo performed a live concert in more than a year, so this was a special day for them, just as it was for us.
Thanks to the Summerlin Library for this wonderful free outdoor concert series. More concerts are coming up each week. Visit their Facebook page for more information and to register for tickets.