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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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HENRY "RED" ALLEN

Three Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1049

 

 

CD1
Red Allen Meets Kid Ory
1. In the Mood
2. Blues for Jimmy
3. Ain't Misbehavin'
4. Honeysuckle Rose
5. I Wish I Was in Peoria
6. Keep off Katie's Head
7. Tishomingo Blues
 
We've Got Rhythm
8. Christopher Columbus
9. Some of these Days
10. I Got Rhythm
11. Come Back Sweet Papa
12. San
13. Tuxedo Junction
14. Lazy River
 
Henry "Red" Allen - Trumpet
Kid Ory - Trombone, vocals
Bob McCracken - Clarinet
Cedric Haywood - Piano
Frank Haggerty - Guitar
Charles Oden - Bass
Alton Redd - Drums, vocals
 
CD2
Red Allen Plays King Oliver'
1. Ballin' the Jack
2. Canal Street Blues
3. Someday Sweetheart
4. Dixie Medley: Dixie/Marching through Georgia/Battle Hymn of the Republic/Bourbon Street Parade
5. How Long Blues
6. Just a Closer Walk with Thee
7. Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home
8. Snowy Morning Blues
9. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
10. Fidgety Feet
11. Yellow Dog Blues
12. All of Me
 
Henry "Red" Allen - Trumpet, vocals
Herb Flemming - Trombone
Buster Bailey - Clarinet
Bob Hammer - Piano (tracks 1-4, 6, 7, 9-12)
Sammy Price - Piano (tracks 5, 8)
Milt Hinton - Bass
Sol Hall - Drums
 
Newport Jazz Festival 1959
13. Introduction
14. Ballin' the Jack
15. Yellow Dog Blues
16. The Price is Right
 
Henry "Red" Allen - Trumpet
Buster Bailey - Clarinet, bass clarinet
J. C. Higginbotham, - Trombone
Sammy Price - Piano
Kenny Burrell - Guitar
Lloyd Trotman - Bass
Rufus "Speedy" Jones - Drums

 

Henry "Red" Allen came from New Orleans and worked with the bands of such leaders as Luis Russell and Fletcher Henderson. In some ways he was almost a carbon copy of Louis Armstrong, another New Orleans native who worked with Fletcher Henderson and Luis Russell. Indeed, Allen played in Louis' band which had originally been Luis Russell's. Red Allen thus tended to live in the shadow of Louis Armstrong.

Yet Allen's style was different and he developed a very free approach to rhythm and the trumpet. This free approach came to fruition in a 1960s album called Feeling Good, where his unrestrained approach led Don Ellis to call him "the most avant-garde trumpet player in New York". This LP is long overdue for transference to compact disc.

The recordings on this double CD come from an earlier period, when Allen was still playing in a fairly traditional New Orleans style, albeit with his very individual approach to the trumpet. The first CD contains sessions recorded in July 1959 with Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band in Hollywood. Allen had flown there from New York specially for these recordings. The repertoire consists mainly of New Orleans favourites, although there are some unexpected tunes such as In the Mood and Tuxedo Junction.

Tuxedo Junction displays Kid Ory's evocative use of the mute, and it includes a nice clarinet solo from Bob McCracken as well as a marvellous solo from Red Allen which veers from lyricism to explosion. Allen and Ory work well together - but they had both played for King Oliver and they knew the New Orleans traditions well.

Ory's tailgate style of trombone playing makes a neat contrast with Allen's ability to go from the top to the bottom of the trumpet's range. Red Allen also had a remarkable ability to disregard bar-lines, strolling nonchalantly wherever he fancied, as he does in Keep Off Katie's Head and Tishomingo Blues. Another highlight is Charles Oden's arco bass solo in Blues for Jimmy. All the musicians are splendid, except perhaps for drummer Alton Redd, who seems content to thrash relentless offbeats and do little else.

The second CD begins with Red Allen Plays King Oliver, which doesn't necessarily consist of tunes associated with Oliver, but perhaps we can forgive this, remembering that Red Allen played in Oliver's band from 1927. Allen leads a typical trad line-up but his playing is more advanced than that of the normal trumpet leader. As the sleeve-notes wisely say "While his vehicles are the standards of Dixieland, his trumpet work in the frames of these tunes is rarely bounded by the usual rules governing improvisation in this area". Note, for example, how his trumpet growls in Canal Street Blues. And there are two tracks where the pianist is Sammy Price, who backed Allen on that Feeling Good album and whose solid two-handed style seems perfectly suited to Red Allen.

Sammy Price is the pianist on the final tracks, which come from Red Allen's appearance at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival. The personnel includes the unlikely Kenny Burrell, who is better known as a mainstream/modern guitarist, although he makes a good showing here. The band seems over-eager to please, which leads them to some rather disjointed playing. Things calm down somewhat for Yellow Dog Blues, which we heard earlier on this disc. Sammy Price shines with his barrelhouse piano, and Kenny Burrell's solo fits the mood like a glove. The Price is Right finishes the set with something that sounds very like Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll. But then Red Allen was always a showman!

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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