Personalities | Henry ‘Red’ Allen | Twenties | Jazz & Blues
The son of bandleader Henry Allen Sr., Henry ‘Red’ Allen was one of the greatest trumpeters to come out of New Orleans, although he remained eternally in the shadow of Louis Armstrong. He moved to New York in 1927 to join King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators and in 1929 the Victor label signed him as an answer to rival OKeh’s Armstrong.
Allen played with Luis Russell’s Orchestra from 1929–32, then in 1933 joined Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra for a year, during which he appeared alongside Coleman Hawkins on influential recordings such as ‘King Porter Stomp’ and ‘Down South Camp Meeting’. Following a stint with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1934–37), Allen returned to the Russell Orchestra, which by 1937 had become Armstrong’s backing band. He then led his own bands through the 1940s and 1950s, participated in the 1957 CBS TV special The Sound of Jazz and toured Europe in 1959 with Kid Ory. Allen experienced a renaissance in the 1960s before succumbing to cancer.
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