Geri Allen is the quintessence of what a present-day mainstream jazz pianist should be. Well-versed in a variety of modern jazz styles from bop to free, Allen steers a middle course in her own music, speaking in a cultivated and moderately distinctive voice, respectful of, but not overly impressed with, the doctrine of conservatism that often rules the mainstream scene.
There is little conceptually that separates her from her most obvious models -- Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Bill Evans primary among them -- yet Allen plays with a spontaneity and melodic gift that greatly transcend rote imitation. Her improvisational style is at various times both spacious and dense, rubato and swinging, blithe and percussive. It's a genuinely expressive, personal voice; her music is an amalgam -- honestly conceived, intelligently accessible, and well within the bounds of what is popularly expected from a jazz musician of her generation.