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the mississippi

the mississippi

Henry 'Red' Allen and his Orchestra - Sugar Hill Function (1930)

4y ago


In his heyday in the 1930s Henry Allen was a trumpeter of great significance. More than any other 'hot' jazz trumpeter before him he employed the use of long, flowing melodic lines. His sense of continuity had much in common with the style of Harry ?Sweets? Edison who employed the same technique a few years later with Count Basie. Henry Red Allen made his first recordings with Clarence Johnson while on tour with the struggling King Oliver Dixie Syncopators in 1927. Like many jazz players from Louisiana during this period; Henry Allen then spent time playing on riverboats traveling the Mississippi. He made several recordings under his own name in 1929 for Victor and then joined the Luis Russel Orchestra. Allen worked with the great tenor soloist Coleman Hawkins while in the Fletcher Henderson big band in 1933 and 1934 and many of his improvised solos were written in as part of arrangements by Henderson. In 1934 and 1935 Red Allen made a number of recordings which were issued under his own name on the Vocalion, Parlophone, and Banner labels. His solos on sides like Truckin' and Down South Camp Meeting are among his finest on record. Allen was also a member of a swinging studio all-star type band organized by songwriter, publisher and booking agent Irving Mills. He recorded with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band from 1934 to 1936 which waxed some fantastic sides on Columbia and its subsidiary Vocalion. Henry Red Allen was establishing himself as a premier soloist of the early swing period with many of the recordings done in the aforementioned settings in the early and mid 1930s. But in 1937 he rejoined the Luis Russel big band which was, by this time, being fronted by Louis Armstrong. Allen was relegated to merely a brass section man in this outfit, taking a back seat to the great Satchmo, until the group disbanded in 1940. Henry Red Allen then reinvented himself forming a sextet of his own which achieved great popularity in New York at clubs like Kelly?s Stable and Caf? Society. This group, with occasional personnel changes, remained together until the early 1950?s. His trumpet and vocals can be heard on swinging jazz and quasi R&B sides from the mid 1940s such as ?Get The Mop,? ?The Theme,? and ?Ride Red Ride.? From April of 1954 Allen was a member of a Dixieland style house band at the Metropole in NYC. In 1957 he was seen in the film ?The Sound Of Jazz? and in the fall of 1959 he toured Europe as a sideman with Kid Ory. In the early sixties Red continued to play at the Metropole and other NYC jazz clubs and made occasional trips to Boston and Chicago. Between September of 1961 and March of 1963 the Red Allen Quartet was recorded live three times at the London House in Chicago. Henry Red Allen continued to stay active in the mid 1960s but was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer late in 1966. Nevertheless he embarked on a tour of Great Britain returning back to the U.S. just six weeks before his death on April 17th, 1967. Henry 'Red' Allen and his Orchestra - Sugar Hill Function (1930)