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Red Allen
Birth name Henry James Allen
Also known as "Red"
Born January 7, 1906
Origin United States New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died April 17, 1967
Genres Jazz, dixieland
Occupations Trumpeter
Instruments Trumpet
Years active 1924 - 1967
Associated acts King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Steve Lacy

Henry James "Red" Allen (January 7, 1906 – April 17, 1967) was a jazz trumpeter and vocalist whose style has been claimed to be the first to fully incorporate the innovations of Louis Armstrong.


Life and career

Henry James "Red" Allen was born in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of bandleader Henry Allen. He took early trumpet lessons from Peter Bocage and Manuel Manetta.

Allen was playing professionally by 1924, with the Excelsior Brass Band and the jazz dance bands of Sam Morgan, George Lewis and John Casimir. After playing on riverboats on the Mississippi River, he went to New York City in 1927 to join King Oliver's band. Around this time he made recordings on the side in the band of Clarence Williams. After returning briefly to New Orleans where he worked with the bands of Fate Marable and Fats Pichon, he was offered a recording contract with Victor Records and returned to New York, where he also joined the Luis Russell band, which was fronted by Louis Armstrong in the late 1930s.

From 1929 on, Allen joined Luis Russell's Orchestra where he was a featured soloist until he joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra in 1934. He also made a series of recordings in late 1931 with Don Redman, and played with Lucky Millinder's Mills Blue Rhythm Band from 1934 to 1937, when he returned to Luis Russell for three more years at a time when this orchestra was often fronted by Louis Armstrong.

Allen continued making many recordings under his own name, as well as recording with Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton as well as accompanying vocalists including Victoria Spivey and Billie Holiday. After a short stint with Benny Goodman, Allen started leading his own band at The Famous Door in Manhattan. He then toured with his band around the USA into the late 1950s.

In December 1957, Red Allen made an appearance on the "Sound Of Jazz" television show. In 1959 Allen made his first tour of Europe when he joined Kid Ory's band.


Allen returned to working under his own name making more tours of the United States and Europe until his death on April 17, 1967 in New York City.

Style and influence

Red Allen's trumpet style has been said by some critics to be the first to fully incorporate, and expand beyond, the innovations of Louis Armstrong. Allen's recordings received much favorable attention. His versatility is shown by his winning of Down Beat awards in both the traditional jazz and the modern jazz categories.


Further reading

  • Ride, Red, Ride - The Life of Henry "Red" Allen by John Chilton, Continuum, 1999

External links



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